What would happen if a swanky nightclub singer, a young American debutante, a Wall Street broker and Public Enemy No. 13 were thrown together by coincidence aboard an ocean liner headed to England? A comedy of sparkling wit, charming characters and fine-tuned musical numbers is the result, as Paul VI High School proves in its splendid production of "Anything Goes."
Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse fused the book, written by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, with Cole Porter’s delightful music and lyrics to craft the fourth longest-running musical on Broadway in the 1930s. The 1962 version, which Paul VI took to the stage, incorporated some script changes from silver screen versions.
THE PLOT revolves around the lovestruck young stockbroker Billy Crocker, who stows away on the S.S. American after he happens upon his sweetheart, Hope Harcourt, during boarding. Hope and her stuffy fiancé, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, are on their way to be married in England, but Hope’s encounter with beloved Billy reminds her that "without love, there is no hope." Billy gangs up with the famous singer Reno Sweeney, the disguised gangster "Moonface" Martin and Moonface’s sidekick, Bonnie, to break up Hope’s engagement and win her love in a series of hilarious antics.
With her outstanding vocals and irrefutable charm, Tracy Ramsay simply dazzled as Reno Sweeney, allowing no eyes to leave her when she took the stage. CJ Bergin, in the role of "Moonface" Martin, was undoubtedly the key element to humor in this production, as his very presence on stage brought smiles. In his rendition of the song "Be Like the Bluebird," Bergin revealed the loveable quality in Moonface with his outstandingly witty performance. James S. Schempp added his playful charm to the character Billy Crocker, joining the overall excellent cast that made this production quite entertaining.
The laughs abounded when Karen Kelleher strutted onto the stage, thanks to her complete commitment to her character, Hope Harcourt’s ridiculously snobbish mother. Bonnie, played by Hope MacDonald, brought another vivacious and delightful personality into many scenes, with her silly humor and upbeat tap numbers.
THE SET Design, by Catie Brusseau, included a great blend of bright colors that helped to capture the lively ship atmosphere and a range of levels in which the actors could move about during the performance. Scene changes were generally not too long, as the orchestra provided cheerful interludes during those minutes. The lighting occasionally left sections of the cast in darkness and some errors with sound were present in songs, but overall the technical crew nicely tackled the challenges in pulling off a production of "Anything Goes."
Paul VI truly demonstrated the themes of love and friendship in their fine production of "Anything Goes," as characters that are worlds apart manage to find hope through each other to get through the darker moments. The evening was full of laughs and entertainment, sending the audience home with satisfied smiles.