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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Review: Anything Goes


The lights dim to dramatic darkness, casting the stage in a dim glow. People turn to their neighbor to share an anticipatory grin, even if the two are strangers, only united by their love of theater. As the spotlight brightens on the center of the stage, a hush falls over the eager audience gathered to see the musical Anything Goes at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C.

From the corner of the stage, a floating head emerges, grinning happily. For a moment, everyone seems confused. Who is he? But after he lifts up a baton with the same happy grin, we realize he is the conductor. The audience waits, enchanted by the mystery of what comes next. Suddenly, music fills the theater as the head bops along, marking the beginning of a musically enchanting journey aboard the S.S. American in the play, Anything Goes.

From start to finish, the “Gold Standard Musical” kept the audience dancing, singing, and crying along with the talented cast. Thanks to spectacular live music, good acting, and cool special effects, the play was able to come alive. Starring a High School Musical star all teenagers are very familiar with, Corbin Bleu (Troy’s best friend) as well as a number of other skilled actors and singers, the characters were dynamic and grew throughout the show.

Anything Goes was originally written as a book by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton with help from Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The book was turned into a musical in the 1930’s by Cole Porter. The musical has been played numerous times, including on Broadway. Anything Goes was recently revived by the Arena Stage Theater.

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New York Times described Anything Goes as a “musical comedy joy,” exactly what the lighthearted play was. The plot line is simple while complicated, a love story between young Billy Croker and debutante Hope Harcourt who are caught up in a series of tangles.

Hope is engaged to Lord Evylen Oakleigh, a rich Englishman, in order to bail her family out of financial troubles. In order to stop their marriage, Billy disobeys his boss’ orders and stows away on the S. S. American en route to England. With mobsters and policemen, sailors and angels, liers and filthy rich New Yorkers, will Billy and Hope’s love make it through one long and eventful cruise journey?

The entire cast of Anything Goes shined as bright as a lighthouse in the play. Hope Harcourt, played by Lisa Helmi Johanson, was beautiful and charming, with a soprano that lifted up the show, especially in the song “All Through the Night.” The sailors’ facial expressions were the perfect mixture of exasperation, joy, and hope. Lord Evelyn’s dictionary of American expressions kept spectators in tears. He recorded overused phrases, but manages to mess them up in the most outrageous of ways. Step in it? Sit on it? Step on it?

Courtesy of Arena Stage

However, the two stars of the show were Billy Crocker, played by Corbin Bleu, and Reno, Billy’s friend, played by Soara-Joye Ross. Corbin Bleu, seen on the right, captured every member of the audience with his bright attitude and enchanting dancing. His voice soared strongly through octaves in all of the wongs, and his tap dancing skills awed everyone in the theater. His voice was parred only Ross, a Broadway star whose powerful voice resonated through the entire theater. She brought a jazzy element to the play that complimented Bleu’s more pop/rock style.

Anything Goes was a refreshing escape from reality in two short hours. The cast was incredibly diverse, a change from many other productions. They acted together seamlessly and supportively like in the song “You’re the Top” where Ross and Bleu sang parallel. In fact, the entire play was masterfully done, with limited props and sets so the audience could focus solely on the musical and theatrical abilities of the actors.

At the end of intermission, the sound of clapping was deafening. And at the end of the play, the entire audience stood up to give a standing ovation. Anything Goes was an exhilarating change of pace from life that made me laugh, cry, and watch in awe as I witnessed the amazing skills of an amazing cast.

Anything Goes is showing at the Arena Stage Theater until December 23, 2018. They also have a Pay-Your-Age program for those aged 30 and younger. It’s not too late to buy tickets to buy tickets and lose yourself in this immersing comedy.

Sneha Parthasarathy

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