“Anything Goes” – Hale Centre Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ March 14, 2016


Hale Centre Theatre
Gilbert, AZ

1934’s “Anything Goes” is one of Cole Porter’s best musicals.  Amazingly witty and clever, it relies on a simplistic plot where a group of passengers cruising from New York to London, resolve a variety of silly plot consequences to end up with compatible partners.  For a production of “Anything Goes” to soar, it must be superlatively cast, cleverly staged, and attractively set with elegant period finery.  Every element of the sparkling Hale Centre Theatre confection hits these demanding requirements.

Cambrian James’ exuberant staging and lively dances including several artfully executed tap routines are a joy to watch as a large cast fills the theater’s tiny stage as it delights theatergoers.  Even the Hale Centre’s use of recorded orchestra tracks instead of live musicians doesn’t really harm this stalwart production which charmed a capacity audience Saturday night at the Gilbert theater.

The production boasts an impeccable cast that sings with precision as it has great fun affectionately mocking the silly plot’s laughable stupidity.  It’s no surprise that everyone begins in an ill-founded relationship with allegiances that won’t work but after the show’s fanciful machinations and outstandingly melodic Porter tunes, everyone ends up the perfect mate.  Porter’s score includes such standards as the title tune, “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and “You’re the Top” among the nearly 20 song hits.

Big voiced Emily Evans makes a stirring Reno, a New York nightclub singer and evangelist, who loves Billy, played with fervent gusto by James D. Gish, who thinks he loves the simple passion of Jacqueline Brecker’s Hope as she pursues wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh who is played with nose-in-the-air uppityness by Ben Mason, because he brings financial security to Hope and her mother.  There’s a public enemy, Moonface Martin, on board played charmingly by Geoffrey Goorin who gets involved in the machinations and some questionable religious impersonators further cloud the carryings on.  By the time the ship reaches England, financial situations change, phony alliances are stripped away, and everyone ends up with the person they really love.  Everyone else in the large cast delivers on-target characterizations as they tap dance stylishly and sing gloriously.

Clever set pieces move swiftly as they colorfully indicate the various shipboard locations where the shenanigans transpires and there’s elegant period finery.

If pure entertainment with several Cole Porter tunes is your idea of glorious theater, you can’t go wrong with the Hale Centre Theatre’s captivatingly charming “Anything Goes” that earns five stars out of five and continues through April 2.  For tickets, call the Hale Centre Theatre box office at 480-497-1181 or order online at www.haletheatrearizona.com.

Grade: A