While we were chatting at the media call for Anything Goes, Christina O’Dell said musical theatre is one of her favorite genres to perform in because of how expressive it is. To paraphrase her words: the characters sing because their emotions are too large for words and they dance because they just can’t walk anymore. As I watched the joyful performance of Walterdale Playhouse season closer Anything Goes, I just couldn’t help but think that O’Dell’s words are the perfect way to describe this fun, feel-good musical.
Everything about Walterdale’s performance of Anything Goes is uplifting. From the colourful set and costumes, to the iconic music of Cole Porter, to the actor’s fun-and-fancy-free portrayal of the passengers and crew of an ocean liner, I had an absolute blast at this 2 1/2 hour musical.
While the story might not make the most sense (it’s better not to question it), the premise is that the passengers of an ocean liner are caught in a love triangle… er, quadrangle… The beautiful debutante Hope Harcourt (Krista Skwarok) is engaged to marry Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Kent Sutherland), but not if Reno Sweeney (Christina O’Dell), Billy Crocker (Kyle Thulien), Moonface Martin (Morgan Smith), and Erma (Lauren Kneteman) have anything to say about it. Identity theft, tap dancing, and hilarity ensue.
I attended the performance with Miss. Sable, and during intermission had an impromptu lesson on everything voice-related. As Miss. Sable described the different vocal fach’s to me – to the rest of us, that’s how singers voices are categorized – I really gained an appreciation of how the actor’s fach contributed to their character. For example, the sensuous Reno Sweeney – a nightclub proprietress – would have seemed too innocent singing in a higher soprano (which Christina herself told me was her typical tone), verses the lower tone she used, which conveyed that she had a lot of life experience and added a layer of innuendo to her dialogue. On the other hand, the goofy Billy Crocker – played by Kyle Thulien – was perfectly suited to the fun, flighty tenor he sang in for the majority of the show.
Two of the design elements I adored were the stage design and painting and the costumes. As I said before, the stage created an atmosphere of “let the good times roll” right as the audience walked in. With a colour pallet that used warm shades of purple, green, and yellow that lent a carnival-type atmosphere to the play and lines on the floor which seemed to extend the length of the actual playing space, the set design (complete with a space for an incredible live band) was well-suited to the show. I also marveled as costume change after costume change took place – the sheer number of outfits worn by Reno Sweeney and her angels was impressive. I can’t imagine all the time that went into creating the different outfits. A particular favourite was the way one of Reno’s outfits – a pantsuit with legs so wide they looked like a dress – epitomized Reno’s femininity combined with the more masculine (for the time period) traits of being a nightclub owner with an impish character.
Anything Goes is a great way to start off your summer. The show runs July 3 – 13. Tickets are $14 – $20.
– Jenna Marynowski