Billy, Reno, and Moon steal MTG's Anything Goes
Written by Cole Porter.
MIT Musical Theatre Guild.
Directed by Tarik Alkasab '92.
Adam Schlesinger, music director.
Sala De Puerto Rico.
April 20-22 and 26-28.
By SHANNON MOHR
THE MIT MUSICAL THEATER GUILD wraps up a successful year with its spring production of Anything Goes. The adaptation of the Cole Porter musical by Philip Welling '91 and Shawn Bunn '92 is thoroughly delightful in every respect.
As the audience walks through the door of the theater, they are drawn into the story: Seats in the Sala de Puerto Rico are arranged in groups along three walls of the room labeled "Starboard," "Port," and "Stern." The orchestra is along the fourth wall. The actors use the space in the middle as their stage.
The action takes place on a ship en route to Europe from the United States. Traveling to England are many society figures including Reno Sweeney, queen of New York nightlife, and Hope Harcourt, with her mother and her royal fianc'e, Sir Evelyn. Billy Crocker, a rising executive on Wall Street, stows away after discovering Hope's recent engagement, hoping to regain Hope's love.
Excitement rises as the travelers discover that Public Enemy No. 1, called "Snake Eyes," and his accomplices -- Moonface Martin, known as Public Enemy No. 13, and Bonnie -- are on board disguised as clergy and are trying to flee the country. Another priest is accidentally apprehended in the confusion of the departing ship and Billy, with the help of Moon and Bonnie, assumes the identity of "Snake Eyes" in order to avoid the ship's authorities.
Reno, Moon, and Billy join forces to break Hope and Sir Evelyn's engagement. Reno and Sir Evelyn find that they have fallen in love with each other while Billy and Hope have admitted their desire to get married. The only obstacle that remains is Mrs. Harcourt, whose desire for her daughter to marry into the "right" family prevents her from listening to her daughter's true feelings. This, of course, requires a clever plan to produce a happy ending.
MTG's production of the acclaimed musical is strong both on music and acting. The trio of Daniel Henderson '91, Rina Cerulli '86, and Rob Fermier '93 stole the show as Billy, Reno, and Moon. Their renditions of the main characters were well done and very humorous.
Out of all the soloists, Henderson was definitely the strongest. Unlike some of the other singers, he could be heard no matter which part of the audience he was facing. He was particularly comfortable on stage and exuded that feeling to the audience. His solo in "It's Delovely" with Hope was a favorite.
Cerulli had an amazing voice and a strong stage presence. She did have some trouble keeping her voice above the orchestra, but those times became rarer as the performance progressed. Her acting and dancing talent were excellent, and her performance in the "Anything Goes" number was impressive.
Fermier played his part to the dime, keeping the audience constantly laughing at his antics. His big solo, "Be Like the Bluebird," was especially humorous.
The chorus should be very proud of their performances. Some of the most enjoyable moments of the musical included the entire cast, dancing and singing, as in "Anything Goes" and "Blow, Gabriel, Blow." The tap dancing, choreographed by Debbie Kulik '90, was very good and the audience members, as well as the performers, were having fun with those numbers.
The orchestra, directed by Adam Schlesinger, was unsure of itself during the overture, but soon became quite good. Sometimes, however, the singers and the musicians seemed to get off tempo with each other.
The costuming, designed by Julie Hollenback '93, was excellent and quite authentic. The set, by Sherry Ipri '93, was also imaginative, making especial use of the idea of setting up the stage in the middle of the audience. During the overture, the actors were introduced in an innovative way: each one of the main characters appeared through a life preserver with his or her name on it.
The cast seemed to be having fun with their performance, and this certainly energized the audience. There was a lot of great teamwork, and it showed. Well done, MTG.