If you are looking for a massive dose of feel-good energy, you can do no better than to cruise on down to the Utley Performing Arts Center this weekend for Rockwall Summer Musicals production of Cole Porters award-winning musical “Anything Goes.” Set aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London, the show serves up generous portions of lively singing, dancing and goofy comedy. Audiences will recognize familar tunes such as “Anything Goes,” Youre the Top” and “I Get a Kick out of You.”
An excellent cast all around with standout performances by some of the areas most talented singers and dancers will make for an enjoyable evening. John Garcias “Moonface” Martin, a second-rate gangster hiding under the guise of a minister, had the audience laughing throughout the play. His companion Bonnie, a gangsters moll of dubious virtue and boundless optimism, is deftly handled by Shannon Ryan. The incredibly wealthy and improbably naive Evelyn Oakleigh is played with gusto by Hunter Lewis, and the roles of Billy and Hope have wonderful chemistry together as lovers with seemingly little chance of making it together.
“Stealing the show” is an expression often overused in musical reviews, so just this once well exercise a little restraint. In last nights performance, Whitney Rosenbalm did NOT steal the show.
She owned it, free and clear.
As Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub owner, Whitney seemed possessd by the spirit (and voice) of Ethel Merman, who starred in the original run in 1934. We first noticed her formidable singing chops in RSMs production of “1776” last season. In Anything Goes, she not only displays them in spades, but lets us know in no uncertain terms that they come in a complete package with acting and singing pieces included. If you are not moved to jump up and shout “halleluja!” as she leads the cast in “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” you may want to think about upping your vitamin intake.
This year the orchestra was moved backstage, vastly improving the sound quality and meshing with the performers. The lighting seemed a bit dim at times, with dancers and performers drifting into shadows when they should have been highlighted.
“Anything Goes” continues this evening through Saturday at 7:30PM with a Sunday matinee at 2PM. Tickets are available at the door or through The RSM website.
See more pictures.
by Bob Lewis – Photos by Planet Rockwall