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Theatre Review: Anything Goes... Went Very Well

Cole Porter’s Classic Musical Opens at Villagers Theatre
Villagers Theater

FRANKLIN, NJ—Howard Whitmore, a longtime and valued component of New Jersey’s non-equity theater network has made another strong contribution with his version of Cole Porter’s nautical musical comedy of mistaken identity, lovable Gangsters, drunk Wall Street heavyweights and burgeoning romances.

Howard, with his eye for casting, didn’t make this contribution alone.  He had help from a strong cast including Michael Miquel, whose high energy, talent and stage presence delivered to a packed house a delightfully humorous and very likeable Billy Crocker.

Michael wasn’t alone in his standout performance. Adding to a very enjoyable night of musical comedy was Joan Schubin as a somewhat subdued Reno Sweeny.

Sweeny's level of energy was just enough to keep her character interesting without dominating the stage, and still not giving anything up when it came to her fine performance.

Erick Hall, fresh from directing Circle Player’s Romeo and Juliet is uproarious as Public Enemy Number 13 Moonface Martin and Jennifer Guhl is charming as the zany and lovable Bonnie. Rounding out the main characters is Faisal Sheikh who also gave a solid performance as the stuffy and conniving Sir Oakely.

In addition to these fine actors and actresses, a nod must also go to Julian Kimberlin’s choreography.  The exhilarating finale to act one was well executed and entertaining.

First staged in 1934 with queen of the belters Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeny, "Anything Goes" is a quintessential American musical that contributed to the nation’s songbook with such standards as, "You’re the Top," "Its DE-lovely," and "I Get a Kick Out of You and Friendship."

There have also been several noted Broadway revivals with such talents as Sutton Foster and Patti Lupone, and at least two movies, one in the 1930's and another in the 1950's.

A testament to how enduring "Anything Goes" is, Howard Whitmore’s version at Villagers with its high energy level, excellent casting and good choreography is highly recommended.