By Diva Heather Boa
GRAND BEND – What’s not to love about Anything Goes, the musical that opened on Huron Country Playhouse’s main stage this past Sunday?
There’s incredible singing, live orchestra, fancy footwork, marvellous costumes and fine acting wrapped around the story of a young man who sneaks aboard a cruise ship to pursue the love of his life, a debutante who is being chaperoned by her mother on the voyage that will end with her wedding to another man.
The characters in this play with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and new book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman are zany and delightful, from energetic nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (played by Jayme Armstrong) to desperate romantic Billy Crocker (played by Patrick Cook), from stowaway blonde Erma Latour (played by Lee-Anne Galloway) to the incredibly politically incorrect Oriental duo (played by Neil Salinas and Ryota Kaneko). Even the villain Moonface Martin (played by Sheldon Davis) is quite loveable. Then there’s the dog; that poor fluffy creature whose misfortunes get no sympathy from the audience.
Most of the laughs are the cheap sort that fit comfortably into the weekend summer scene. There’s a beard made of dog fur – yes, from that poor dog, a sword that rises from its owner’s side as his sexual interest rises, a skeet shooting contest that gets overtaken by a machine run and other stuff unabashedly designed to draw laughter. It’s all silly and it’s all in good fun.
Paradoxically, this is serious stuff. Under the direction and choreography of Michael Lichtefeld, this production is tight; it’s a complicated mix of movement, timing, singing and live music that comes together beautifully.
The vocals of Jayme Armstrong and Keely Hutton, in particular, are quite stunning. But songs like Anything Goes and the finale It’s De-lovely, which involve the entire Company in a flurry of dance and spinning costumes and powerful voices, are absolutely magical.
Anything Goes runs until Aug. 6 on the main stage at Huron Country Playhouse. Tickets, $44 regular, $36 preview, $26 youth under 20, are available by calling the box office at 1-855-372-9866 or visiting online.