Porter's `Anything Goes' to deliver tunes from '30s to Chesapeake Music Hall

Broadway musical full of amusing characters

September 02, 1999|By Mary C. Johnson | Mary C. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

At Chesapeake Music Hall, a cruise ship is about to dock with colorful passengers, including a couple of escaped convicts, some members of the clergy, debutantes, Wall Street moguls, a nobleman and a nightclub singer turned evangelist with her own set of angels.

This 1930s-style luxury love boat, the S.S. American, is anchored to a golden decade of classy tunes.

"Anything Goes" has an incomparable score, often described as Cole Porter's best. The year was 1934, a time when Broadway was jammed with genius and plots existed only to amuse, not challenge, the audience.

With a book by Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, "Anything Goes" opened on Broadway in November 1934 and ran for 420 performances, a record for its day. The show set an impossibly high musical standard that composer Porter was inevitably measured by in his later shows.

Along with the title song, the score includes "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "It's DeLovely," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," and "All Through the Night." Porter's score proved danceable to the tapping chorus and was a fantastic gift to star Ethel Merman, who became forever identified with three of the show's songs.

The zany story takes place aboard the cruise ship as it sails to England. It follows the antics of Reno Sweeney, nightclub singer turned evangelist, and her chum, Billy Crocker, a stowaway Wall Street executive who is in love with Hope Harcourt, debutante, engaged to royal Sir Evelyn.

The fun intensifies when passengers discover that Snake Eyes -- Public Enemy No. 1 -- is on board, along with Moonface Martin, Public Enemy No. 13, masquerading as a clergyman. Adding to the confusion and general hilarity is the quick-witted banter of sophisticates trading barbs and even swapping identities, some finding romance with new partners in unexpected places.

Chesapeake Music Hall's cast features Nori Morton in her CMH debut as Reno Sweeney, with Mary Armour Kaiser as Bonnie and Patrick Wenning playing Billy Crocker. David Reynolds is Sir Evelyn, and Allan Hoffman plays Elijah Whitney.

Cruising for the second time in their roles are Sheri Kuznicki as debutante Hope Harcourt and Peter Kaiser as Moonface Martin. Dean Davis is the captain and Frank Antonio makes his CMH debut as the purser.

Jerry Vees plays a Chinese man, and Danielle Treuberg is Mrs. Harcourt, Hope's socially ambitious mother. Angels include Ashley Atkins, Shanon Benil, Jennifer Sjolie and Mia Williams. Rounding out the cast are Jessica Thornhill, Danielle de Carla and Andrea Elward.

"Anything Goes" will open Wednesday and will run through Nov. 20, with performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, plus some Sunday and Wednesday matinees.

Tickets are $31.50 for Friday and Saturday evenings, and $28.50 for Sunday and Wednesday matinees. The price includes a well-stocked buffet.

Chesapeake Music Hall is off U.S. 50, on Busch's Frontage Road. Information: www.chesapeakemusichall.com. Reservations: 410-626-7515 or 1-800-406-0306.

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