Reading the title of the play, Anything Goes, I wondered just how literal the application of such a name would go on a college campus. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried about possible censorship. The Theater Department spared no expense.
I attended the Saturday evening showing on Nov. 19, which began at 7:30 p.m., and I was immediately impressed by the quality of the set pieces. The backdrop of the cruise ship was luxurious and impressive, with individual settings rolled in front of the larger backdrop when necessary, such as the individual cabins of the ship and the jail cell after the intermission.
I consistently found myself grinning at the vibrant characters throughout the performance. Characters such as Billy Crocker, played by Treston Henderson, and Reno Sweeney, played by Emily Seifert, dominated the stage whenever they were on it. Henderson conveyed an excellent range of emotional and spiritual conflict as Crocker sacrificed his financial security to stow away to pursue the woman of his dreams, and Seifert’s performance as Sweeney threw all traditional conventions of a “proper lady” out the front door, attempting to seduce multiple characters throughout the evening and generally not caring about the meaning of subtlety.
The musical score is a crucial part of any musical, and the musicians’ performance was as solid as the rest of the play, and the actors’ willingness to interact with the band on multiple occasions and break the fourth wall helped add to the sometimes nonsensical presentation of the plot at hand.
Anything Goes is an excellent example of a play that requires the audience to enter the theater with an open mind, and the understanding everything in it is all in good humor. Shenanigans include impersonating Chinese Christian converts, sexual innuendo every few seconds, exaggerated views of every stereotype possible, and several more implicit and explicit events I have chosen to not spoil in this review. Those unfamiliar with the play’s central idea might be alarmed at some of the dialogue of the play, but the cast did a fantastic job delivering their lines with gusto and courage in spite of that, leading to fantastic performances of scenes your high school English teacher would never show to your parents.
Not even the proper British lord was safe from the play’s antics, as the intermission found himself regaling the audience of his dalliance with a young woman in China, his propriety never faltering for even a moment as the one “proper and sensible” man in the play fell victim to the same mentality as the rest of the cast: anything goes.
The production value of this play definitely showed in the night’s performance. From the bold and vibrant characters to the colorful and exuberant set pieces and the upbeat musical score, Anything Goes had me squirming in my seat the entire night, trying my hardest to not laugh as the scene in front of me grew steadily more insane, and in today’s political and social climate, well, sometimes a little craziness is exactly what we need.