by Larry Ham
If you enjoy wonderful singing, great choreography, excellent acting and a fun story, then get down to The Reedley Opera House and take in Anything Goes, the latest production of Reedley’s River City Theater Company.
Anything Goes features music and lyrics by Cole Porter, including standards like “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” You’re The Top,” and “It’s De-Lovely.” The story revolves around the madcap occurrences on an Ocean Liner traveling from New York to London. Its debut was in 1934 and it has been a favorite of audiences ever since, and the RCTC production does not disappoint in any way.
In a review of any musical, you begin with the foundation – the main actors. In this case, Alina Gonzalez portrays Reno Sweeney, an Evangelist turned nightclub singer. Her portrayal is madcap, hilarious, sexy, and simply outstanding. Her vocal range is amazing and rich, and her comic timing is spot on. She literally is the center of attention in every scene in which she appears, due in part to the excellent costuming and choreography provided by Sarah Wiebe, who co-directed the entire production along with RCTC Founder and Artistic Director, Mark Norwood.
The performance level doesn’t drop off a bit after Alina, either. Joseph Ham as Billy Crocker, Jeff Lusk as Moonface Martin, and Thomas Hayes as Lord Evelyn Oakeigh are all wonderful. All three sing to perfection, and they also provide plenty of comic relief as they shuffle about the ship, trying to figure out who should marry who.
The female leads are terrific as well. Courtney Cowin as Hope Harcourt, and Lana Rotan as Erma are both veterans of the productions at the Reedley Opera House, and both give outstanding performances in “Anything Goes.” Courtney is lovely as she deals with the turmoil of a heart split between two men, and Lana is lovely and bawdy as Moonface Martin’s main squeeze.
Of course, a production of this magnitude demands a strong supporting cast and adept direction, and Anything Goes has both. There are several big production numbers, and I am always amazed at how the folks at RCTC manage to fit it all on the tiny confines of the Opera House stage. Kudos to Mark Norwood and Sarah Wiebe for pulling it off once again.
One of the main attractions of a show at the Opera House is the intimacy of the setting. All of the tables are close to the stage, and in the case of Anything Goes, the audience feels like they are right there on the ship. Of course, the small venue presents logistical challenges for a musical production that would normally be seen on a huge Broadway stage. But Mark Norwood is a master of this particular challenge, and succeeds once again.
I suppose I am obliged to find something to criticize in an honest review. So I guess my one complaint would be the show wasn’t long enough – I didn’t want it to end. I have been to dozens of shows at the Opera House, and I really believe Anything Goes is the cream of the crop. Performances run until March 26, so make sure you see this awesome show and support our local theater company. It truly is De-Lightful!
Tickets can purchased on their website or by phone 559-638-6500 or 866-977-6500.
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