by Jody Tuso-Key 9/10/22
Theatre patrons were treated to the much-anticipated start of City Springs Theatre’s season with the opening night of ANYTHING GOES. This classic by Cole Porter is a high-energy romp on the seas complete with side-splitting one-liners, several subplots, and show-stopping musical numbers. In this humble reviewer’s opinion, this is the best show I’ve seen at City Springs. The company seems to outdo itself with each show, and this show was packed with talent, from the director and crew to the cast, almost everyone has Broadway credits on their resume.
Anything Goes is set on an ocean liner traveling from New York to London. The hero of the story, Billy Crocker (Billy Tighe), has his heart set on debutante Hope Harcourt (Meadow Nguy). He stows away on the ship Hope is embarking on with her fiance, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Jamie LaVerdiere). Billy attempts to win Hope’s heart with the help of nightclub singer turned evangelist Reno Sweeny (Mamie Parris) and “Public Enemy Number 13” Moonface Martin (Googie Uterhardt).
The show made its debut in 1934 in what is now known at the Neil Simon theater. It includes such well known songs as I Get a Kick out of You, You’re the Top, Friendship, It’s De-lovely, and of course, Anything Goes. ANYTHING GOES stands the test of time and is still a crowd favorite. Four versions of the script exist, and City Springs chose the 1987 revival, originally produced by Lincoln Center Theater.
Director/Choreographer Sara Edwards was a perfect choice, having just come fresh from THE MUSIC MAN on Broadway as assistant choreographer. Her choreo work is intricate and highly entertaining. The case tackled every complicated dance number with expert precision. Scenic designer Steven K Mitchell imagined a set that enables the audience to feel as if they are observers on the main deck of the ship, with the orchestra in nautical uniform, led by conductor and music director Miles Plant sitting atop the weather deck. The lighting design by Mike Wood and sound design by Justin Schmitz add the appropriate colors, textures, and emotions to each scene. Costume designer Martin Pakledinaz deserves a special BRAVO!! I loved every costume choice and the breathtaking fit and flow of each dress as well as the meticulously tailored suits, tuxedoes, and sailor costumes were evidently a product of hard work and attention to detail. The production crew painted a lovely canvas filled in by spectacular performances.
The performances were indeed spectacular. Leading Lady Mamie Parris brought all the energy needed for the role of Reno Sweeney with amazing vocals, acting, and dancing. Billy Tighe was the perfect choice for Billy Crocker and played the stockbroker turned ship stowaway, master of disguise, and pseudo-public enemy #1 with the comedic timing, smooth vocals, and seemingly effortless dancing that the role requires. Meadow Nguy as debutante Hope Harcourt showcased a beautiful soprano voice and equally beautiful dancing skills. Googie Uterherdt had the audience in stitches with his impeccable comedic timing as gangster Moonface Martin. It was good to see him on the Sandy Springs stage once again. Other notable performances include Jamie LaVerdiere as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Meg Gillentine as Emma, and Atlanta’s own favorites Kevin Harry as Elisha J Whitney and Terry Burrell as Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt. The ensemble was also impressive in every song and dance number.
ANYTHING GOES is musical theater perfection and is Speakeysie Highly Recommended. It runs at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center until September 25th. Get your tickets before they sell out at https://www.cityspringstheatre.com/