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Aboard a cruise ship, plotting to steal back a lost love

Anything Goes

MIT Musical Theater Guild.

La Sala de Puerto Rico.

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter.

Book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse.

Directed by Paul Dixon.

Starring Debbie Hyams '97, James Kirtley G, Waleed Anbar '99, Liz Louik W '99, Teresa Raine '97, Bruce Applegate '94.

By Teresa Huang
Staff Reporter

The Musical Theater Guild's production of Anything Goes has its moments. Although it feels thoroughly like a amateur performance, it has several strong performances, the dancing is polished, and the singing is excellent.

Anything Goes takes place on a passenger cruise ship from New York to England where young Billy Crocker (Waleed Anbar '99) discovers his lost love Hope Harcourt (Liz Louik W '99) is aboard but about to marry the stiff Englishman Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (James Kirtley '95), mostly under the duress of her mother, Mrs. Harcourt (Stephanie Zielinski '98). Crocker enlists the help of the famous nightclub singer and former evangelist Reno Sweeney (Debbie Hyams '97) as well as public enemy Moonface Martin (Bruce Applegate '94) to turn his hopeless situation around, only to find it more hopeless than before.

The highlight of Anything Goes is the tap dancing, skillfully choreographed by Christina Schofield '98. MTG has a history of shying away from most musicals that truly depend on dance, but this show proves that dancing can be done successfully. The tap dancing was energetic and really absorbed the audience.

I also wholeheartedly commend the director for eliminating and replacing the offensive portrayal of the two Chinamen characters that Lindsay and Crouse originally wrote in their show. This switch was done in tremendously good taste and was politically correct as well as a good way to avoid the wrath of this particular reviewer. The Plum Blossom thing could have been removed, too, though.

Teresa Raine '97 as the flighty gangster sidekick Bonnie was show-stopping and by far the best character in the show. Her stage presence was strong throughout her acting, as was her dancing, right down to her swingy walk. Debbie Hyams '97 does an uncanny Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney, and her energy is good, although she came off as less sexy than Bonnie, which I don't think was Cole Porter's intention. Applegate also turns out a successful performance as Moonface, the street smart, wise-cracking gangster.

Anbar was a terrific ham, but his interaction with Louik failed to create the sexual tension that should have existed between them. Such was the case with Hyams and Kirtley, though Kirtley's usual aloofness was actually put to good use in his role, making his individual character quite effective. Despite good individual performances, each failed to convince they were in love with anyone else.

A flaw of the production was the absence of detail in the acting, the set, and the costumes. The show lacked nuance, which is essential in making a period musical believable. A necklace here and a table there would have added so much to the production. And key turning points in the plot were passed over too easily.

Despite its plainness at times, Anything Goes is an okay production. This is one of the few traditional-type shows MTG has done in a while, and I think the change is refreshing. Though I feel this production was not completely successful, it's a step in the right direction. The singing and dancing save Anything Goes, leading me to recommend it to anyone who misses the old-fashioned song and dance and can overlook a few flaws.

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on Tuesday.
Volume 116, Number 54.
This story appeared on page 7 .

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