anything goes

"Madame, the ship is not sinking," and neither did the production of Anything Goes at The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan.

It was “delightful”-ly funny to watch as four unlikely co-conspirators work to unite true love for three couples aboard the S.S. American.

Anything Goes, a Cole Porter musical comedy of the 1930s, opened Wednesday at The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan. The production will continue through July 30.

Jeff Kready plays Billy Crocker, an American stockbro ker on his way up the ladder of success, who impulsively stows away on the ship after seeing his only true love, Hope Harcourt, played by Rebecca Kloha.

Unfortunately Hope is set to marry Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, played by Richard Marlatt, in order to save her mother and herself from financial ruin in the Crash of 1929.

In the first of many conniving events, Billy borrows the passport of mobster “Snake-eyes”, Public Enemy No. 1. In doing so, he becomes the cohort of Public Enemy No. 13, Moonface Martin, and his gal, Erma. Billy also has to avoid his boss, Elisha Whitney, who is also on the ship, while trying to convince Hope that she truly loves him.

Night club singer/lady evangelist Reno Sweeney, played by Lee Ann Payne, attempts to convince Billy that she’s the one for him, but ends up helping Billy win Hope through an elaborate and comical series of scheming and deceitful acts. And at the same time, she wins Hope’s financee for herself.

The third couple to finally link are Elisha Whitney, played by Patrick McCarthy, and Hope’s mother Evangeline Harcourt, played by Glory Kissel.

Moonface Martin steals the identity of a missionary/minister and is followed around by Luke and John, two Chinese converts of the true minister. These converts become pawns in Moonface’s plans to help Billy

In spite of keeping notes on American slang terms, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh confuses the King’s English with the slang, which leads to comical faux pas throughout the play.

Peppered with songs such as “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “You’re the Top”, “Friendship”, “Blow Gabriel”, “It’s Delovely”, and “Anything Goes”, the production gives the actors many chances to display their vocal and dancing talent as well. The music also gave each quite a chance to ham up his or her own character.

Kready and Kloha blended well as Billy and Hope. Hope’s character was more subdued which contrasted with the more flambouyant characters. This is the way it should be as she was the one in confusion between her feelings and her sense of duty.

McCarthy is hilarious as an inebriated, Yale-educated businessman who thought he was also quite the lady’s man. Although he portrayed a secondary character, McCarthy endears the audience to Elisha “Eli” Whitney.

Payne’s (Reno Sweeney)acting reminded me of a cross between Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, yet her voice was much like Ethel Merman.

Kissel’s character (Mrs, Harcourt) was a bit like Carol Burnett’s “Eunice,” which added to the visual comedy factor.

Marlatt’s uses his international theatrical training to portray the British stuffiness of Lord Oakleigh and yet uses some overacting to its comedic advantage.

Each member of the cast, no matter how small the part, gave it his or her all. Each facial expression, with or without lines, punctuated everything that was happening on stage. There were definitely no small actors in this production.

Anything Goes is worth seeing if you enjoy comedy and swing music.

Tickets are available by calling the ticket office toll-free at (888) 261-9675 or (217) 728-7375.

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