anything-goes
PlayDC: Anything Goes @ Kennedy Center
June 27, 2013 | 10:00AM

review by: Connor Hogan

There’s definitely something in the water at the Kennedy Center this week, and it’s not the norovirus.  Symptoms include spontaneous tap dancing, catchy tunes playing over in your head, and a whole lot of sweaty, swarthy Sea Men.    So what is the mysterious cause?  Anything Goes, winner of the Best Musical Revival Tony in 2011, has docked itself here in DC for the next-almost-two-weeks to shower us with all our favorite Cole Porter songs.  So grab yourself a sailor, or two (or three in my case), and head on down to the Kennedy Center for some nautical themed fun.

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Anything Goes is a madcap musical comedy where catchy songs are interwoven with vaudevillianesque comedy routines.   Billy Crocker (Josh Franklin), a dashing young Wall Street stockbroker, is in love with the recently engaged Hope Harcourt (Alex Finke), a hopelessly demure debutante.  Refusing to accept his fate, he stows away on the ocean liner that she is taking with her husband, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Edward Staudenmayer), back to England.  To complicate matters, Crocker is admired by the smooth, sultry, and sleek Reno Sweeney (Rachel York), and to further complicate them, Crocker shacks up with Public Enemy Number 13, Moonface Martin (Fred Applegate), and his slutty companion Erma (Joyce Chittick).  The plot here, however, is really just a huge set up to hear some amazing songs such as “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” “Anything Goes,” and my personal favorite “You’re the Top.”

 

This production sets out to revamp an old classic, but still stay true to its roots.  Within the first five minutes, we have some pretty great sight gags, but the cast doesn’t shy away from the clear sexual innuendos.  Reno Sweeney is depicted with a Mae West “Why-don’t-you-come-up-and-see-me-sometime?” rasp, but also a soft demure spot.  Rachel York is a powerhouse.  Each time I saw her, she surprised me in some new way; whether it was at the end of the second act when she began to tap just as well as the ensemble, or in Act 2, when she begins to soften around Lord Evelyn, she was just spectacular.    Plus, she seriously must be best friends with the costume designer, because she looked absolutely stunning in everything Martin Pakledinaz put her in.  Also, Martin, thanks for those sailor costumes.

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Anything Goes is just a lot of fun.  The comic timing is on point across the ensemble.  Fred Applegate, and Josh Franklin make an amazing, and unlikely comic duo.  When I first saw Franklin, I thought, “Alright, fine, romantic lead guy.  Looks awesome,” but the fact that he could hold his own against a seasoned professional like Applegate was refreshing.  Joyce Chittick as Erma with her cavalcade of sailors is a joy to watch, and jesus, can those boys dance.  The group numbers are flawlessly choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, and Jennifer Savelli.  Watching the Act 1 finale made me want to dust off my old tap shoes, and try a triple time step or two.  Then I realized, I’d probably break an ankle from my lack of practice.

Seriously, hit up the Kennedy Center before the SS American leaves port.  Anything Goes is a raucously fun, and catchy ride that will have you singing “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” all the way home.  The show leaves town July 7th though, so make sure you get your tickets now!

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