“Anything Goes” and You Should, Too

By Annie Stamp, Sports Editor, and Natalie Ingalls, Layout/Design Editor

The saying “Anything Goes” seems to be more than just the title of Arena Stage’s spectacular modernized version of the classic show. Written by P.G. Wodehouse and Cole Porter, this Broadway staple opened at the Alvin Theatre in 1934 and is currently playing at Arena Stage. It stars Corbin Bleu (Billy Crocker), best known for “High School Musical,” Lisa Helmi Johanson (Hope Harcourt), and Soara-Joye Ross (Reno Sweeney).  

The original script was a product of its time, featuring rampant sexism and blatant racism, most notably against two stowaway Asian characters. However, by working with script writers John Weidman and Timothy Crouse to make changes to the story and casting a company as diverse as it is talented, Arena made a clear attempt to steer away from the stigmas of the past. These efforts were a success, and we found ourselves laughing along rather than cringing in discomfort over the subplots of the show.  The essence of the plot is still the same, following lovestruck Billy and his efforts to win the affection of the engaged Hope Harcourt on the SS American.

While each actor shined in their own right, a few performers were particularly adept. Soara-Joye Ross brought incredible vocal power and range to character Reno Sweeney, while Stephen DeRosa’s hilarious delivery of Moonface Martin’s one-liners showcased his expert comic timing. However, the most memorable (and cutest) actor of the show would have to be Maximilian, who adorably played the challenging role of dog Cheeky.

Although the skill of the cast was clear and filled our theatre-kid hearts with jealousy, the true stars of the production were those working behind the curtain. Costume designer Alejo Vietti brought the ‘30s to life with clothing reflective of the time. Color-coordinated sailor outfits were charming on female dancers, a stark contrast to the beautiful dresses worn by female love interest, Hope Harcourt, which accentuated her wealth and personality. The fun and bright costumes went hand-in-hand with Patrick Esse’s show-stealing choreography. Particularly impressive was the full cast tap number ending Act 1, as well as the Billy/Hope duet which was reminiscent of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was flawlessly executed by Bleu, definitively proving that, yes, Chad Danforth can indeed dance.

“Anything Goes” runs through December 23, and students interested in attending can take advantage of Arena’s Pay-Your-Age program, which offers affordable tickets to patrons 30 years and younger. Complimentary tickets were provided to Jagwire reporters to watch the show and provide a review.