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Kedar K. Adour

ANYTHING GOES a knockout hit at Center Rep.

By May 27, 2015No Comments

Molly Bell (center) her angels and cast belt out “Blow Gabriel, Blow” in Center Rep’s hit musical Anything Goes.

ANY THING GOES: Musical. Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter. Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse. New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman. Directed by Michael Butler. Center REPertory Company 1601 Civic Drive in downtown Walnut Creek. 925-943-7469, or

May 26-June 27, 2015.

ANYTHING GOES a knockout hit at Center Rep.  [rating:5]

Ethel Who? That would be Ethel Merman who made Reno Sweeny her signature role in  the musical Anything Goes that sailed onto the Broadway stage in 1936. . . at a time when ‘anything goes.” You can forget Merman if (when) you go to see Molly Bell’s Reno Sweeny and a fantastic cast under Michael Butler’s non-stop direction of  Anything Goes that earned a standing ovation opening night at Center Rep stage.  It is a charming, sparkling, energetic, hysterical humorous, song filled, spiritedly danced and corny/loveable musical.  Porter’s classic, vivacious, witty and naughty songs will keep a smile on your face as you hum the tunes long after you leave the theatre.

All the previous adjectives, starting with charming, describe Center Reps’ staging with a cast of 25 cavorting on a fantastic shipboard set with a 10 piece onstage orchestra being led by the multi-talented Brandon Adams who even comes down to center stage to lead an acapella rendition of “Public Enemy #1.”

Although Reno (Molly Bell) is a major player in the high jinxes that come fast and furious, she has to share the stage with an eclectic bunch of characters portrayed by a great cast. First we meet a Yale alumnus, and heavy drinker, financier Elisha J. Whitney (Michael Patrick Gaffney at his best) and his stock broker Billy Crocker (handsome tenor Joshua Hollister) who is love struck by Hope Harcourt (beautiful Brittany Danielle) betrothed to Sir Evelyn Oakley (great comedic timing by Jeffrey Draper). Then there is Public enemy #13 Moonface Martin (scene stealing Colin Thompson) with a great desire to be #1 and his moll Erma (bright, bouncy Lizzie O’Hara). Reno, an evangelist turned cabaret performer is traveling with her four ‘angels’. These are the major characters that all end up on the USS America bound for England.

As with most musicals of the 30s, the book is secondary and the writers say, “Enough of this dialog, it is time for a song or a dance.” So it is with Anything Goes. Molly Bell makes her presence felt belting out “I Get a Kick Out of You” before the sailors decked out in sparkling white uniforms invade the Bon Voyage Cocktail Lounge to shuffle off to Buffalo with “There’s No Cure Like Travel” before the entire company send the ship off to the high seas with a song and dance “Bon Voyage.” Now how’s that for two opening scenes? But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Porter inserts two more great songs, “You’re the Top” for Reno and Billy and “Easy to Love” for Billy and Hope. And we are only half way through the first act.

Cherubic Colin Thomson as Moonface Martin, gets his turn to show his stuff with Reno in the rollicking “Friendship.” Joshua Hollister and Brittany Danielle are a perfect match as their love interest emerges with “It’s De-Lovely.”  By this time it is one hour and twenty minutes into the show and time for a show stopper.  What a show stopper it is with the crew and passengers praising Moonface as “Public Enemy Number One” in the signature song, “Anything Goes.” Bell is at her best with the full company as back-up in the spirited tap routine to end the first act.

The second act is a continuation of the improbable mix-ups with disguises that you won’t believe to keep you entertained. The energy continues when Reno and her Angels (Ariel Daly, Jenna Harris, Amanda Sylvia, Mary Kalita), step out of their white robes into revealing red costumes belting “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”  Molly Bell is a whirl wind with a voice to match her great dancing. The dancing and dancers are a marvel performing Amanda Folena’s stunning choreography.

Before the two hour and 30 minutes (with intermission) are over Lizzie O’Hara belts and dances up a sexy maelstrom storm in “Buddie Beware” with the sailors as back up. Colin Thomson steals another scene with “Be Like the Bluebird”, Jeffery Draper shines with the tongue in cheek “The Gypsy in Me” and Brittany Danielle and Joshua Hollister are pitch perfect with “All Through the Night.” The evening ends with a reprise of “I Get a Kick out of You.”

The set is a creative beauty art deco main deck with semi-circular stairways surrounding a central revolving area that allows expeditious scenery changes in sync with director Butler’s torrid pace without missing a beat. All phases of what musical theatre should be are on display: Fantastic music and lyrics, powerful dancing, great orchestrations, costumes to die for (Victoria Livingston Hall), great singing, a plethora of humor and of the shining star of Molly Bell making the character of Reno Sweeny her own. Ethel Who? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

CAST: Molly Bell, Justin Travis Buchs, Ryan Cowles, Ariel Daly, Brittany Danielle, Lynda DiVito, Caleb Haven Draper, Jeffrey Draper, Michael Patrick Gaffney, Jenna Harris, Joshua Hollister, Mary Kalita, Christine Macomber, Scott Maraj, R. Martin Newton, Lizzie O’Hara, Neal Pascua, Jason Rehklau, Anthony Rollins-Mullens, Nathaniel Rothrock, Amanda Sylvia, Colin Thompson, Michael Verzosa.

CREATIVE STAFF: Director Michael Butler; Choreographed by Amanda Folena; Music direction Brandon Adams; Set design, Michael Locher; Costume design, Victoria Livingston Hall; Lighting design,  Kurt Landisman; Sound design, Jeff Mockus;;

Kedar K. Adour MD

Courtesy of

Jason Rehklau, Caleb Haven Draper, Anthony Rollins-Mullens, Ryan Cowles, Justin Buchs*, Lizzie O’Hara