Review: “Anything Goes” At The Ogunquit Playhouse Through July 9th
by Bobby Franklin
Put a classic Broadway musical into the hands of the artists at the Ogunquit Playhouse and it is pretty much guaranteed you will be in for a wonderful evening. The current production of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” is another example of the wonderful things that happen on the Playhouse stage.
A great cast led by Andrea McArdle, Sally Struthers, and Josh Canfield make this play simply DeLovely. “Anything Goes” opens strong with Reno Sweeney singing “I Get A Kick Out Of You” to the object of her desires Billy Crocker. With such a strong and well delivered opening number I wondered if they were going to be able to continue the pace for the rest of the show. Well, Cole Porter knew his music, and the cast knows their Cole Porter.
Setting sail to “There’s No Cure Like Travel” led by the Captain (Seth Lerner) and “Bon Voyage” we learn that while Reno loves Billy, he is hopelessly in love with debutante Hope Harcourt (Patti-Lee Meringo) who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Ian Knauer).
Everything becomes delightfully madcap as Billy stows away on board with plans to win Hope’s heart. While doing so he befriends Public Enemy #13, Moonfaced Martin played by Ray DeMattis who cracks an endless stream of one liners. While some are groaners, they are all funny with his superb delivery. Martin is disguised as a priest in order to evade the authorities, which creates for some awkward and very humorous moments.
Sally Struthers, oh yes Sally, who returns to Ogunquit each year and never disappoints, is marvelous as Hope’s mother Evangeline. Ms Struthers brings out laughs with just a sidewards glance. She is as strong as ever in this production. In one scene she spends about fifteen seconds singing her way across the stage, but in this few seconds she has the audience roaring with laughter. She is such a treasure. Evangeline is being pursued by Elisha Whitney (Steve Brady) who is a bit of a tippler and the perfect match for her.
As I said earlier, it seemed that with such a strong opening it would be difficult for the cast to keep moving things along. The play only got stronger as each situation and song were brought out. Reno and Billy dancing and singing their way through a wonderful “You’re The Top” where we see Ms McArdle’s immense talent on display while being complimented by the very able Josh Canfield who was perfect in the role of Billy. Hope and Billy singing “It’s DeLovely”, the lively duet with Reno and Moonface performing “Friendship”, and the toe tapping “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” where Andrea McArdle and the cast light up the stage, all make this a fantastic evening.
I have to mention two other numbers that were outstanding. Mychal Phillips as Erma burned up the stage while dancing her way along with the sailors to “Buddie, Beware”. The audience loved her.
Ian Klauer’s playing the very British Lord Oakleigh is sidesplittingly funny in his rendition of “The Gypsy In Me” as he tangos across the stage in John Cleese fashion. Oh, this was funny!
The cast is supported by a six piece orchestra directed by Charlie Reuter. Mr. Reuter and his musicians make it look easy. Choreography by Jason wise is step perfect, and the whole production is in the fine hands of director Jayme McDaniel.
Now, I have left out one new incredible rising young star who took the stage by storm in his debut. That would be charming, talented, four legged sensation Little Bradford T. Kenney. Never have I seen such a strong performance from a first time player. It might be noted that this Mr. Kenney, named after Ogunquit Playhouse Artistic Director Brad Kenney, is a Cairn Terrier and has quite the theatre background. Little Bradford was adopted from a kill shelter by Sally Struthers and went out on that stage a puppy but came back a star.
Seeing a play on Broadway is now beyond the financial reach of many people, but that does not mean seeing a full fledged Broadway production is. The Ogunquit Playhouse gives us all you will get on the Great White Way and even more as they make their audience feel as if they have found a home there.
I am sure you will find “Anything Goes” delovely and leave thinking it’s the tops.
For ticket information contact the Ogunquit Playhouse at 207.646.5511 or OgunquitPlayhouse.org
Ogunquit, ME—The Ogunquit Playhouse sets sail with the delightful, Tony Award-winning Anything Goes June 15 to July 9. This splendid madcap musical comedy stars Broadway’s Andrea McArdle as Reno Sweeney and features two-time Emmy Award winner Sally Struthers as Evangeline Harcourt. This tap-happy classic finds a brassy nightclub singer, a starry-eyed stowaway and Public Enemy No. 13 booked on a transatlantic luxury liner bound for romance and hilarity. When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes.
Topping off the fun is Cole Porter’s delightful, delicious, “De-Lovely” first-class score
Topping off the fun is Cole Porter’s delightful, delicious, “De-Lovely” first-class scorethat includes some of musical theatre’s greatest hits, including “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” “You’re The Top,” and of course, “Anything Goes.” Anything Goes features music and lyrics by Cole Porter with original book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse and new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.
Andrea McArdle returns to the Ogunquit Playhouse to portray Reno Sweeney. She was last seen at the Playhouse in 2006 as Sally Bowles in Cabaret and in the 2009 production of Les Miserables. She first captured the hearts of theatergoers everywhere in 1977 when she originated the title role in the mega-musical Annie and became the youngest performer ever to be nominated for a Tony Award as Best Lead Actress in a Musical. Since then, she has starred in several Broadway musicals including Jerry Herman’s Jerry’s Girls alongside Carol Channing and Leslie Uggams; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express; as Margy Frake in State Fair; as Fantine in Les Miserables and, most recently, as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. She has also appeared in theatres in New York, nationally and internationally and has performed in concert halls from Carnegie Hall to the Hong Kong Philharmonic and casino hotels in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Two-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner
joins the cast as the socialite Evangeline Harcout.
Sally Struthers joins the cast as the socialite Evangeline Harcout.She is probably best known for her role as Gloria in the groundbreaking TV series All in the Family. She has also starred in the Fox television series 9 to 5 and her own CBS series Gloria as well as recurred on the CBS comedy Still Standing and the CW network’s highly acclaimed Gilmore Girls. Ms. Struthers joined the Gilmore cast for Netflix’s new four movie limited revival, which will premiere in the fall of 2016, and recently guest starred in the acclaimed IFC comedy series Maron. Sally Struthers has performed many roles at Ogunquit Playhouse including last season’s Nice Work If You Can Get It, as Louise Seger in Always, Patsy Cline, Mama Morton in Chicago, Paulette the hairdresser in Legally Blonde and as Felicia Gabriel in The Witches of Eastwick.
Playing Moonface Martin is Ray DeMattis who was last at the Ogunquit Playhouse as Coach VanBuren in Damn Yankees, The Red Sox Version. On Broadway he has appeared in Little Shop of Horrors, City of Angels, Zoya’s Apartment, and the original production of Grease. He has also performed in many Off-Broadway shows and regional theatres across the U.S. as well as in film and several television series including The Sopranos, Everwood, and Law and Order. Josh Canfield joins the cast as Billy Crocker. He performed in the Broadway production of Doctor Zhivago and will appear in the upcoming Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 with Josh Groban. He has appeared on the hit CBS television series Survivor: San Juan Del Sur, and the BBC’s Any Dream Will Do. Mr. Canfield has also appeared in many regional theatre productions including Godspell, Hair, Sail Away, and Iron Curtain.
Also in the cast are Patti-Lee Meringo making her Ogunquit Playhouse debut is as Hope Harcourt; Steve Brady as Elisha Whitney, who appeared in last season’s Nice Work If You Can Get It; Ian Knauer as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, who is also making his Ogunquit Playhouse debut and has appeared on Broadway in Dames at Sea, Mamma Mia!, By Jeeves and State Fair; and Mychal Phillips who returns to Ogunquit to play Erma after last being seen in the Ogunquit Playhouse production of White Christmas.
Helming the production is Jayme McDaniel who also directed the Ogunquit Playhouse productions of 2015’s sold-out White Christmas; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Clay Aiken, winning Broadway World awards for best direction and choreography; and Singin’ in the Rain, for which he received an IRNE nomination for his choreography. He is currently a resident artist for EMK Productions in Seoul, South Korea where he has choreographed Rebecca, The Musical and the Yeston/Kopit Phantom and serves as Artistic Supervisor for Elisabeth and Marie Antoinette. He has worked as an associate director, director and/or a choreographer for dozens of shows across the U.S. and internationally, including Laughing Room Only on Broadway; Joseph… at North Shore Music Theatre; Singin’ in the Rain, Grey Gardens, Yankee Doodle and The Rocky Horror Show at the Ordway; The StudentPrince, Camelot and Rags at Paper Mill Playhouse; Always, Patsy Cline, Evita, It’s a Fabulous Life, Chicago, Zombie Prom, The Merry Widow, People Like Us, They’re Playing Our Song, White Christmas, Wonderful Town, Sound of Music at the 5th Avenue Theatre and many others. As an arts administrator he was the Associate Producer for the Ogunquit Playhouse and the Associate Artistic Director for the Ordway Center of the Performing Arts. He’s also enjoyed a career on the stage as well, most notably in the final Nat’l Tour of Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing.
Choreographer for Anything Goes is New York-based Jason Wise who was mentored by the legendary Tommy Tune. He has choreographed and staged musical numbers for over twenty productions in the United States and Canada for Perez Hilton, Karen Ziemba, Brent Barrett, Lee Roy Reams, Maureen McGovern, Karen Akers, Donna McKechnie, Faith Prince, Leslie Uggams, Christine Andreas, Jackie Hoffman, Bridget Everett, Julia Murney, Stephanie J. Block, Megan McGinnis, Paige Davis, Dustin Diamond, Howard McGillin, Dennis Haskins, Ed Alonzo, Ashley Brown, Andrea Martin, Billy Porter, Michael Urie, Linda Lavin, Tovah Feldshuh, Tonya Pinkins, and now Sally Struthers and Andrea McArdle. Mr. Wise’s television credits include Lifetime’s Dance Moms, NBC’s Smash, ABC’s Pan Am, and The Normal Heart for HBO. His work in film includes The Wolf of Wall Street and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Charlie Reuter returns to the Ogunquit Playhouse as Music Director after conducting last season’s award-winning production of Nice Work If You Can Get It. Most recently, he worked with Trevor Nunn to adapt an original score for Pericles for which he received a 2016 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Music in a Play. He has also served as assistant conductor for the Tony Award-winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at The Old Globe, and for Dreamgirls at The Muny starring Jennifer Holliday. Mr. Reuter other credits include Peter and the Starcatcher at La Jolla Playhouse; The Light in the Piazza at LPT and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe. Following his time in Ogunquit he will conduct the National Tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
Mark your calendars now and get ready to see every show this year. Ticket packages are still available and are the best way to guarantee the best seats for the lowest price, starting at only $129 for a three-show Super Saver package. Individual tickets start at $47 each. To learn more about becoming a Playhouse member, or to purchase tickets and gift cards, visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org or call the Ogunquit Playhouse Box Office at 207-646-5511.
The Ogunquit Playhouse is proud to be the New England premiere and one of the first regional theatres in the U.S. to produce the brand-new musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame July 13 to August 6. This epic tale of passion and hope is an emotionally charged retelling of the famous Victor Hugo love story set in 15th century Paris, created by two masters of stage and screen, composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Aladdin) and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin). Get your glitter on for the outrageously funPriscilla Queen of the Deserton stage from August 10 to September 3. Take the ride of your life with the hilarious and heartwarming Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, based on the Oscar-winning film, with a non-stop dazzling array of over 500 imaginative and outrageous costumes, 200 headdresses and the non-stop hit parade of hit dance numbers from the 70s and 80s. Pull up your boots and hold onto your hats when Seven Brides for Seven Brothers hits the stage September 7 to October 1. This all-dancing, all-singing, all-new production of the rip-roarin’ musical comedy classic bursts onto the stage with rambunctious energy. Elvis, Jerry Lee, Perkins and Cash return by popular demand! Million Dollar Quartet,the best-selling show in the history of the Playhouse, hits the stage October 5 to November 6 with the 2015 cast to once again to rock out the season with one mega-hit song after the next.
About the Ogunquit Playhouse: The Ogunquit Playhouse, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization listed on the National Historic Register, is located on Route One in Ogunquit, Maine and produces the finest Broadway musicals each season with performances Tuesday through Sunday, from May 18 to November 6. Follow the Ogunquit Playhouse on Twitter (@OgunquitPH) and on Facebook (facebook.com/OgunquitPlayhouse) for behind-the-scenes info, photos and fun throughout the season. For a complete list of show times, pricing and more information about the season visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org.
Photo Caption: Broadway’s Andrea McArdle stars as Reno Sweeney in the delightfully, delicious, “De-Lovely” Anything Goes at the Ogunquit Playhouse June 15 through July 9. The madcap musical comedy set on the ocean liner S.S. American is filled with Cole Porter’s greatest hits, a team of tap dancing sailors, and a whole lot of fun – especially when two-time Emmy Award winner Sally Struthers hops on board as Evangeline Harcourt to stir things up! Don’t miss the boat! www.ogunquitplayhouse.org or call the Ogunquit Playhouse Box-office at 207-646-5511 for tickets.