'Anything Goes' officially pulls into port at SDMT
By Cassiopeia Guthrie, Feb. 12
San Diego Musical Theatre is launching 2023 with their version of the 1934 musical Anything Goes, running now through Mar. 12.
With music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman (based on the original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, and John Weidman), Anything Goes is a romantic comedy on the high seas. In the storyline, Billy Crocker finds himself at sea chasing puppy love with heiress Hope Harcourt. When he discovers that she is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, he enlists the assistance of a nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney, and a mobster, Moonface Martin, to catch her attention once again and to break up the engagement. Featuring a variety of duets, large group scenes, and tap numbers set to an upbeat pre-recorded score, Anything Goes is big, brassy, and bright.
The San Diego Musical Theatre version of Anything Goes is beautifully performed by some veteran cast members in key roles. Allison Spratt Pearce is delightful as the sexy, sassy Reno Sweeney. Her voice is clear and strong and she exudes confidence from every pore.
Romantic lead Billy Crocker has quite possibly the biggest arc of the show, and is played by Anthony Michael Vacio, in a role that he might have been born to personify. Vacio’s dulcet tenor tones carve through the air effortlessly and his dance numbers are both flawless and filled with vitality.
Zane Davis also carves out a surprisingly charming and concurrently wacky rendition of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. While the problematic song “Gypsy in Me” perpetuates a Romani slur and stereotype that should surely be addressed, Davis’ cheeky performance as Oakleigh in other scenes have the audience tittering.
The above performers are joined by: Dave Rivas, Johnisa Breault, Eli Wood, Dan Mason, Kara Tuckfield, Cody Bianchi, Ian Black, Shannon Gerrity, Isaac Jackson, Dan Mason, Ava Francis, Carly Salway, Sophia Larosh, Victoria Villamil, Ellie Barrett, Christianne Holly Santiago, Wendy Waddell, Jasmine January, Eliot Goretsky, in order of appearance, and swings Katey Konderik-Oducayan and Marlon Magtibay. Magtibay swung into the production I saw as a crewmember.
Xavier J. Bush has done a wonderful job with choreography for this production. The tap, burlesque, and partner duos are both well developed and executed by the large cast and use the finite space on the SDMT stage to full effect. And, while the set is spare and functional, the costumes for the production, designed by Janet Pitcher and Chong Mi Land, provide lovely additions to the storytelling.
Director Omri Schein has assembled a high energy cast and production team for this season opener and audiences seem ripe to receive it. I imagine some people will leave the theatre itching for their own adventure at sea.
Anything Goes runs at San Diego Musical Theatre through Mar. 12.