Monday, July 12, 2004

Anything Goes (Carousel Dinner Theatre)

ANYTHING GOES’ sails merrily into Carousel Dinner Theatre

If your illusion of a dinner theatre is an old clapboard building, greasy food in steamer trays and a poorly produced musical, then you haven’t been to the Carousel under new Artistic Director Sean Cercone. Cercone has many fine plans for the theatre, and many have already been put into effect.

The theatre itself looks like a sumptuous Las Vegas show room. Beautifully decorated in red, with linen coverings and candles on every table, the tiers of tables and booths allow for good stage sight lines. The servers are young, polite and cooperative. In fact, we were so delighted with Chris Hendricks, our waitperson, that we changed her title in the program from Assistant Head Front Server to CHIEF Head Server.

The menu has 9 appetizers, 18 entrees and 10 desserts and a full offering of wines, alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. Favorable comments were overheard about the quality of the food.

And, now to the show, itself. ‘ANYTHING GOES’ is a classic 1930s musical. The story is silly and predictable and the music doesn’t always fit into the plot. You will never mix this up this with ‘CHORUS LINE,’ ‘FIDDLER ON THE ROOF’ or ‘WEST SIDE STORY.’ But, who cares. If you are in the right mood for farce and good dancing and ready to hear clever and wonderful lyrics to songs, you’ll probably go out singing, “I Get a Kick Out of You.” And, as one of the songs states, it is “Easy to Love.” The music and lyrics are by the wonderfully gifted Cole Porter and includes “All Through the Night,” “It’s DeLovely,” and “Goodbye Little Dream.”

The Carousel production has three strong elements going for it. First and foremost, Kirsti Carnahan, playing Reno, is the consummate Broadway star. She is beautiful, is a powerful singer, sparkles in every scene she is in, and has a wonderful sense of comic timing. If you go see the show for no other reason than to see Carnahan, it’s worth the price of admission.

Second, Rob Donohoe is a delight as Moonface Martin, Public Enemy #12. “Friendship” a duet by Donohoe and Carnahan was absolutely delightful.

And, Janiece Kelley-Kiteley’s choreography sparkles. The tap routines in “Anything Goes” and the show stopping “Blow, Gabriel Blow” are gems.

The plot, if that’s what you’d like to call it, centers on the premise that boy falls in love with girl, girl’s mother arranges for a marriage to an older man on a cruise ship, boy stows away on the ship, boy wins girl after many twists and turns in the story.

Director Victoria Bussert has added just the right level of farce to the staging to insure that the laughs are present and the production moves right along. Her only stumble was the casting of Dominic Roberts as the show’s hero Billy Crocker. Roberts failed to develop a believable character, flatted in many of his songs and lacked the polish to appear opposite the likes of Carnahan and Donohoe. Others in the cast, however, are quite good. Jenn Goodson, a Marilyn Monroe look alike, sings and dances up a storm in “Buddy, Beware.” Brian Ogilivie is a standout dancer and Katherine Wilfong has a nice singing voice as does Marc Moritz.

The musical sounds and the technical aspects of the show were excellent.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: If ‘ANYTHING GOES’ is any indication of what’s to come, going to Carousel Dinner Theatre will give you a complete entertainment package...good food, in a wonderful setting, with an above average production.