Arena Stage’s “Anything Goes” is literally a cruise ship of laughter, suspense, dancing, … yea, basically fun. And did I mention, the other L word? (love)
“Anything Goes” is a mixture of 1930s gangsters, lover, shipmates, and witty ladies of the night, all laced with light-hearted bafoonery that won’t let you stop grinning.
It stars Corbin Bleu, but he isn’t the curly head small kid we all know from years ago. He plays the big bad (bad meaning good) and entertaining Billy Crocker, who falls in love with, get this… someone else’s lady. That someone else is Englishman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Jimmy Ray Bennett) and the lady is debutante Hope Harcourt (Lisa Helma Johanson). The trio work their way through a tangle where only one guy can emerge victor (well, kinda…).
As the play begins and against many of our better judgments, Billy becomes a stowaway on the ship (the American) carrying Hope and Oakleigh to London, in an attempt to profess her love and win her hand.
Of not, Oakleigh steals most of the scenes he’s in with his whimsy dance moves and his failed (and humorous) attempts to understand Western English culture and slang.
Soara-Joye Ross’s presence is powerful as she depicts the elegant yet brassy Reno Sweeney. Everything about Reno was golden, except a few singing parts that just didn’t meet the make (although this could be intentional style).
While the first part of the production may feel a bit long and even silly at times, the quality of well, everything.. the singing, dancing, set, humor and the way the performers seamlessly engage each other – is absolutely worth the time. The second part goes (and feels) much quicker, tying each story in a final feel-good bow.
Go see Anything Goes, Directed by Molly Smith. Music and lyrics by the legendary Cole Porter, Lights, Kimberly Purtell; sound design, Daniel Erdberg. About two hours and 40 minutes with one 15 minute intermission. See it through Dec. 23 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. $40-$125, subject to change. 202-488-3300 or arenastage.org.
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