ANYTHING GOES

by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The OPCT and The Tom Nehl Fund of The Community Foundation opened Cole Porter’s “ANYTHING GOES” at their playhouse at 2900 Moody Road in Orange Park. It will run through June 30th, 2013.
“Anything Goes” hit Broadway in 1934 and ran for over 400 performances which was very successful considering it was the middle of the Depression. Broadway revivals in 1987 and 2011 won multiple Tony Awards, including Best Revival and Best Choreography.
“Anything Goes” probably has one of the more interesting histories as musicals go. It was originally titled ” Bon Voyage”, and concerned a shipwreck. The songs were written by Cole Porter and the cast featured star Ethel Merman. As luck would have it, a real live sinking of the S.S. Morro Castle occurred in New York during the rehearsals, with 135 persons dying in the unfortunate accident. Producers pulled the book and completely rewrote it, changing the setting to a ship sailing from New York to London; they retained the original songs and cast. The result was a musical farce with no purpose other than to entertain, with fantastic songs, multiple mistaken identities, and general mayhem.
KATE POWELL plays the lead Reno Sweeny, a former minister turned night club singer on this cruise ship. Ms. Powell, who came here from Tampa, now makes Jacksonville her home. Kate was in ABET’s “Once on This Island” and “Clarinda”, excellently playing more somber singing roles. In this show, Ms Powell really lets her hair down, displaying her finely trained vocal talents and some fancy ballroom and tap dancing. She is gorgeous, she is grand, and you are going to love her.
Reno’s romantic interest, at least at the beginning of the play, is neophyte stockbroker Billy Crocker, played by theatre newcomer BRONSON SARMENTO. Mr. Sarmento was well cast; he is tall and handsome with a great voice and was perfect for this role. His romantic interest is Hope Harcourt, a beautiful high society female wonderfully portrayed by MEEGAN TEBO MORTON, also a fine vocalist We recall seeing Ms. Morton in ” My Fair Lady” at the Alhambra. Her fetching duet with Billy of “It’s De-Lovely” is . . . well, just de-lovely .
Englishman Evelyn Oakleigh is supposed to marry Hope during the voyage, but very funny complications ensue. DAVID JON DAVIS is this delightful Brit and “The Gypsy in Me”, his big song in Act II displayed how physically agile he is and why his vocal talents are in so much demand on our local stages. In fact, Mr. Davis has been on stage in a musical at one or another of our theatres all season long. Next up for him is “Young Frankenstein” at Players by the Sea.
SUSAN CARCABA (Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, Hope’s mother), is a veteran of the local stages, and is a wonderful character actress and great at comedy as you will see in “Anything Goes”. TIM DEBORDE is the bombastic stockbroker, Elisha Whitney, a true blue Yale man, and he lets us know this frequently. Tim is one of the mainstays of OPCT and does it all; acts, sings, directs and works with summer youth theatre workshops.
The funniest character on stage is Public Enemy # 13, Moonface Martin, who has stowed away on the cruise. As played by New Jersey transplant BRIAN VETTER, he kept the audience in stitches, especially when he sang “Be Like The Blue Bird”, which was a show stopper!
Another funny character was the wild and sexy Emma in the very capable hands of ANASTASIA CALHOUN. The song in Act II, ” Buddie, Beware” is often cut in productions but the amazing Musical Director BRENDA COHN thankfully kept it, so we were able to hear this zany melody with Ms. Calhoun and the sailors.
Others in featured supporting roles included: KURT McCALL (Captain), TIM ABRAMS (Purser), JIM WARREN (Luke), TERRY BARKELOO (John), STEVE COHN (Signal Officer), and STEPHEN LOWE (FBI Agent). Appearing as ANGELS were ANN SHARRER PARIS, ERIKA FUENTES, SARH DIGEORGIO, MELISSA LOSURE, BRITTNEY MAXWELL, MALLORY WINTZ; as SAILORS, JOSH BAKER, NICOLE LABADIE, JOHANNA CERTO, JULIA BAKER, DANIEL SENKOWSKI; as REPORTERS, SHELLEY HAYES, HOPE RENDELL; and as PASSENGERS, TOM DEBORDE, SALLY DEBORDE, FAITH-ANNE JOHNSON, ELIZABETH DIGEORGIO, PRANITI KUDRE, ALLIE BEAUDROT and SARAH PENTECOST.
The first rate orchestra tucked away back stage performed admirably and includes: Charlie Mann (Keyboard,) JC Cochran (Percussion), Heather Baerga, (Soprano and Alto Sax & Flute), Diane Reyes (Trumpet), and Terry Barkeloo (Alto Sax).
The set design by Director CONNIE SENKOWSKI and crew featured the S.S. American, a cruise ship in red, white, and blue complete with teak decking, that stretched across the stage. Costumer SANDY SUMMERTON and her crew used a boatload of costumes and with two to three or more costumes for each character, that added up to something like 125 costumes for the cast. We especially liked the fashion show that Kate Powell presented as Reno, in glamour dresses from the 30’s.
All the exceptional voices were an important element in the success of the show and the enjoyment of the audience. The delightful inventiveness of Choreographer KELLI CLEVENGER and Dance Captain MELISSA LOSURE with Dance Team Members SHANNON BEHRENS, HANNAH MORGAN and TRISTON HODGES, resulted in some of the best dancing we have ever seen on OPCT’s stage. It was vigorous and winning, especially the elegant tap dancing.
This musical has endured because it is so much fun and has magnificent songs like “Anything Goes”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “You’re the Top”, “Easy to Love”, “All Through the Night” and ” Blow Gabriel Blow”. Co-Directors CONINIE SENKOWSKI AND ROBERT HOUSTON have assembled a showcase of back and front stage talent, to present a revival of “Anything Goes” that is utterly true to the spirit of the piece.
By all means, go see this hilarious well-produced Orange Park Community Theatre production before it goes away at the end of June. It has a lot of laughs, terrific songs sung by terrific voices, and a fast pace with high spirits and happy endings. Call (904) 276-2599 or visit opct.org for additional information and reservations.

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april, 2022

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