Review: ‘Anything Goes’ by Rockville Musical Theatre

Anything Goes is one of those old-timey musicals where even if you’ve never seen the show before, you somehow discover you know the words to every one of the songs. Filled with exciting dance numbers, amazing singing, and amusing hijinks, Rockville Musical Theatre’s new production will have you humming along to these familiar tunes as you take a little cruise toward the show’s nicely-wrapped-up happy ending.

Cole Porter's Anything Goes, presented by Rockville Musical Theatre, plays through July 22 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center Park. Photo by Dan Amodeo Photography.
Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, presented by Rockville Musical Theatre, plays through July 22 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center Park. Photo by Dan Amodeo Photography.

With music and lyrics by the great Cole Porter and a new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman, Anything Goes takes place mostly on a cruise ship during a transatlantic crossing in the 1930s. Young businessman Billy Crocker takes on the identity of a well-known mobster in order to stow away on the ship with the thought of catching the eye of a girl he met recently, debutante Hope Harcourt, who is sailing with her mother and new fiancé, British Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. They are joined on board by a crew of zany characters including an actual mobster, Moonface Martin, and performer Reno Sweeney, all of whom work together to make sure the young lovers eventually find themselves in each other’s arms.

Leading the cast is Melani Drummer in the role of Reno Sweeney, Billy’s faithful friend and would-be lover, who doesn’t get the man she thought she wanted, but does get the man of her dreams. Ms. Drummer is outstanding in this role, with a velvety voice I could listen to all day, and a natural stage presence which helps the story flow effortlessly from one scene to the next.

The leading man of the story, Billy Crocker, as played by Rinaldo Martinez, had a wonderful singing voice and a great rapport with Ms. Drummer as Reno, but felt a little flat to me when it came to the romance with Hope Harcourt. I didn’t quite believe he possessed the passion to abandon a steady job and stowaway on a ship all for the love of a girl he barely knows. His intrepid love interest, Hope Harcourt, played by Jackie Rogers, was similarly reserved, but Ms. Rogers balanced this with just enough spunk to help the audience see what might entice Billy to take such a risk.

A standout in the ensemble cast is Jordan Clifford as mobster Moonface Martin. Clifford was both funny and endearing in the role, making Moonface my favorite character in the show. Paul Loebach as Lord Oakleigh was also quite funny, and he played the foppish lord to the hilt, focusing on the comedic aspects of the character and thrilling the audience with his rendition of “The Gypsy in Me.”

The ensemble for this show is quite strong, with wonderful harmonies from the group of sailors during the song “There’ll Always Be a Lady Fair” and “All Through the Night.” The song “Buddie, Beware” sung by mobster hanger-on Erma, played by Marcie Schwartz, together with her crew of besotted sailors perfectly embodied the time period and made the audience cheer for their dancing tricks.

Cole Porter's Anything Goes, presented by Rockville Musical Theatre, plays through July 22 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center Park. Photo by Dan Amodeo Photography.
Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, presented by Rockville Musical Theatre, plays through July 22 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center Park. Photo by Dan Amodeo Photography.

The end of act one featured an amazing tap number to the song “Anything Goes” and the choreography by Hayley North was fun to watch throughout the show.

The production value of this show is incredibly high, with great sets, fun costumes, and an amazing orchestra, directed by Stuart Welch. The sets for the show were large and impressive and getting them on and off the stage was a bit cumbersome. This didn’t hold up the production at all, however, and added a lot to the ambiance. The show’s lighting, designed by Sarah Randles, and its sound design, by Matthew Mills, were flawless and blended perfectly with the show’s other technical aspects resulting in a production that felt satisfying to the eyes and ears.

If you are looking for a fun night out, complete with great music, a few belly-laughs, and just a touch of romance, sail on over to sea (ha!) this shipshape production of Rockville Musical Theater’s Anything Goes. It’s sure to be a de-lovely evening.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Anything Goes plays through July 22nd, 2018, at Rockville Musical Theater performing at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater at Rockville Civic Center –603 Edmonston Dr, Rockville, MD 20851. For tickets, call 240-314-8690 or go online.