‘Anything Goes’ cast taps its way to ASU Gammage

(Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus)

As the lyrics say in the title song, “Times have changed/ and we’ve often rewound the clock,” the revival of “Anything Goes” continued its national tour with an amusing opening night at the ASU Gammage.

“Anything Goes,” a Tony-award winning musical, is set in the 1920s just as the characters are boarding the “SS American” ship to London.

The musical, composed by Cole Porter, shares the story of Billy Crocker, a young Wall Street broker who sneaks on the ship to prevent the marriage of his lover to a British aristocrat.

Meanwhile, Reno Sweeney, an apparent Evangelist nightclub singer, is the celebrity aboard the ship who helps Crocker break up the couple.

After several seductions, tap dancing numbers, circling and re-circling the ship, each character finds whom he or she is meant to marry; despite how shocking the courtship may be to the audience.

Unfortunately, the musical started off slow on opening night.

Lots of blathering dialogue and one of the more humdrum songs were meant to reveal the relationship between Reno and Billy. Instead, it deviated from the expectation of a flashy opening number.

However, the following scene immediately dove into the notorious choreography with the number “Bon Voyage” and had the audience members tapping their feet for the rest of the night.

Fabulous doesn’t begin to describe Rachel York’s performance as the star, Reno Sweeney.

York, who’s familiar with the Broadway stage, portrayed Sweeney as a poised and witty entertainer and an Evangelist, though her actions show otherwise. York’s performance proves the lead role can both carry and steal the show.

Based on the hollering and applause, the audience came to a unified agreement that the most exciting number was the Act I finale, “Anything Goes.” For those who are familiar with the song, it is nothing compared to a live performance because of the 4-minute tap routine.

The cast’s vocal performance was as good as expected for a traditional, timeless piece. It is the choreography and movement that brings an elderly theatergoer back to his high school cotillion days.

Vincent Rodriguez III, who plays Luke and took his first dance class in high school, said that dance experience and ability were essential to be casted in “Anything Goes.”

“Every style comes from a certain choreographer,” Rodriguez said.

The choreographer, Jennifer Savelli, implemented several different dance styles to jazz up each number. The ballet routine in Crocker and Hope Harcourt’s (played by Alex Finke) duet “It’s De-Lovely” livened up what could have been a corny and cliché love song.

The Titanic-styled plot mixed with the elegant gowns and top hats was a reminder that even the old-fashioned excursions still find a way to tap into our hearts — literally.

“Anything Goes” runs until Nov. 18 at ASU Gammage. Buy tickets online at Asugammage.com

 

Reach the reporter at mkthomp5@asu.edu.