REVIEW: "Anything Goes"

I had the pleasure of spending my day in Dayton as I came up to take some photos of another performer I know from Kings Island and decided to hang around to catch tonight’s showing of “Anything Goes.”  My original plan was to come up on Sunday for the last show but it was sold out already, so it worked out well that I was in town today.

I didn’t know much about this show, other than it was an older Broadway show and had Cole Porter music.  I didn’t have many expectations and I kept it that way even after I knew I was seeing it so I wouldn’t be spoiled with information.  The story is a romantic farce with mistaken identities, missed opportunities for love, and the other usual things you find in this type of production.

First the not-as-good:  I thought some of the cast were in over their heads and should have been better given this is nearing the end of the run and they’ve had some practice.  I thought the initial overture was the longest piece of instrumental music ever created and I was way ready for the show to start before it was over.  The crowd was skewed pretty old and they weren’t as responsive as you’d hope with this kind of comedy.

The pretty good:  the sets were good, the theater is a wonderful little cozy venue, and I could hear nearly everything that was going on which is important for me as sometimes even at the Aronoff Center I can’t hear the dialogue.  The dancing was largely really good but there were times when they were a little out of synch and one young lady fell down. She got back up and kept going, though, so good for her.

The really good:  The orchestra was terrific!  I thought the costumes were fun and were better than I had expected from a college theater experience, but then again Wright State has a pretty good reputation for Musical Theater so I should have expected that. Many in the cast far exceeded my expectations.  The young woman who played Erma, (Hilary Fingerman) a senior, was really funny and likable and nailed her part perfectly.  She really stood out to me as did the young man playing Lord Evelyn Oakleighh.  His accent was spot on and his comic timing was on point.  Ian Thomas Devin, who I have seen perform Motown music at Kings Island, was good in his role as Moonface Martin.  What I’ve always liked about Ian was the commitment and intensity he brought to his performance and this was no exception.  I enjoyed the actress who played Mrs. Harcourt immensely and thought that Drew Helton’s subtleties in the role of Elisha Whitney were a nice touch.  The crowd really enjoyed him.

But I’ve got to stop and tell you how much I loved the star of this show, Jenyth Rosati, who played Reno Sweeney.  She blew me away.  This is a tough role, of course, made famous by Ethel Merman and Patti Lupone on Broadway.  For her level of experience and her age, I thought this young woman was amazing.  I enjoyed the show but I really loved her performance.

I am glad I stuck around to see this show and I’m very excited about getting to see “Jekyll & Hyde” in January as I have several friends performing in it.  Next week, I’m seeing “Evita” at CCM and I’ve got tickets for “Young Frankenstein” the next week.  The theatre is becoming my new home!

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