I remember thinking that cruise ships seemed like so much fun, probably due to “The Love Boat.” All those people in a fancy floating hotel? It always seemed so magical. ANYTHING GOES, playing this weekend at the Aronoff Center, is also set on a ship like that and is a fun romantic comedy from an era long gone.
When they say ANYTHING GOES, they aren’t kidding. The performances in this one range from dreadful to stellar and everything in between. Fortunately, the leading lady – a nightclub diva named “Reno Sweeney” is played by one of the most magnificent performers I’ve seen in some time. Emma Stratton, just 21 years old, embodies the character with so much confidence you wonder where she gets it from. Her big numbers – “Anything Goes” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” – are the absolute highlights of this nearly 3 hour marathon of classic musical theatre.
There are other good performances, mostly from ensemble member Willie Dee, “ship purser” Kenny Francoeur, and “Hope Harcourt,” played by Rachelle Rose Clark. She shines on “Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye.” Also good is leading man Brian Krinsky, who plays “Billy Crockett.” When he’s at the high end of his register, his voice is exquisite. He has a nice presence on stage.
As with most non-equity tours, there are bumps. Some head scratching casting decisions, some troublesome accents, and even a set piece that needed some extra nudging all take away from what could be an amazing production.
But the energy, precision, and charisma of Stratton makes it worthwhile. She shines through all of it. She’s a star. Write her name down; we’ll see her again.
The costumes are lovely, the set functional (except for the sliding door at the end), and the lighting and sound are fine. I thought the orchestra sounded great. Overall, I enjoyed the show and those two “Reno Sweeny” numbers are definitely worth seeing.
ANYTHING GOES runs through this weekend at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Click here for more information about tickets.