Theater Review: ‘Anything Goes’ brings joy to the season

“Anything Goes,” now playing at the Ahmanson Theater, is a must-see, fun-filled musical with non-stop show-stoppers. Praise must be spread out lavishly, starting with Cole Porter who, although no longer with us, wrote the music and lyrics back in 1934. What lyrics! The wonderful songs keep coming, still fresh and witty, including “I get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Easy to Love” and “De-Lovely.”

The production is first-rate, with a talented cast, marvelous costumes and inspired choreography.

This old-fashioned musical, with a ditzy plot and wild characters, takes place on a cruise ship. The actors make everything work and the audience is kept laughing and toe-tapping for the full two and a half hours.

Starring as Reno Sweeney, the Mae West style siren, is Rachel York who can knock you out with her singing and dancing. Playing an evangelist, if that can be believed, she is attended by four sexy “angels.”

Backing her up is Erich Bergen as a love-smitten boyfriend, who can also sing and dance.

There is a remarkable display of energy by the “older’ members of the cast, such as Dennis Kelly as a stockbroker, Fred Applegate and Gary Lindemann as gangsters and Sandra Shipley as a mother. They are terrific. Joyce Chittick is funny as the moll and Alex Finke is the love interest.

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Edward Staudenmayer steals the show as an English lord who has trouble with the American language. His “Gypsy in Me” performance is hilarious.

Classy production numbers abound as all the members of the huge cast get into the action, even a woman in a wheel chair.

Kathleen Marshall not only devised the smashing dance numbers but directed as well. She deserves much of the credit for the verve and] polish. Martin Pakledinaz designed the costumes, an impressive display of his creativity. The clever set design is credited to Derek McLane.

All in all, “Anything Goes” is smooth sailing.

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