Theater Review: ‘Anything Goes’ Is Easy To Love At Richter Park

DANBURY — What’s not to love about a warm breezy summer evening, a picnic in the park, and songs so familiar and divine you could sing along? There is everything to love about the Musicals at Richter’s production of Anything Goes, with music and lyrics by the sublime Cole Porter, and book by Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse. This musical has stood the test of time and continues to entertain and delight.

Classic musicals endure due to the quality and appeal of their music. The story line may be a simple tale to string together the fabulous music and provide humorous bits along the way. Anything Goes offers a standard boy meets girl, boy almost loses girl… you know the rest, complete with gangsters, showgirls, and a literal cast and crew who deliver campy humor to maximum effect. I caught myself laughing out loud, and sometimes even singing.

Billy Crocker (Robert Bria), a stowaway stockbroker chasing his true love. and Reno Sweeney, a night club phenom dressed to perfection and played by Janina Gonzales, sing and dance their way through a series of romantic manipulations, mob, and general mayhem with the passengers and crew. They are helped and hampered in their shipboard romp by Billy’s true love, debutante Hope (Stephanie Sands), her wealthy, earnest yet naïve fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakley (Michael Wright), and the tough guy with the big heart, mobster Moonface Martin, played by Ted Schwartz. The cast is large and too many to mention individually, but all contribute with energy and enthusiasm, particularly in the musical numbers featuring the entire cast, which is where this production really shines.

A shout-out must be given to Ted Schwartz, who nails Moonface’s character, charm, and wit with a spot-on New York accent and a fabulous set of pipes. Janina Gonzalez is a triple threat — smart, snappy, and beautiful. As Reno, she sings, dances, and acts with commitment and skill. Their duet, “Friendship,” is a highlight.

A superb job of costuming this large cast was accomplished by Lauren Nicole Sherwood. She uses color and cut to recreate the cruise ship atmosphere of the era while enhancing the imagery of the full cast numbers. The set is nicely done with lots of moving parts.

A “de-lovely” way to spend a Cole Porter evening; “Who could ask for anything more?”

Performances of Anything Goes wrapped at Richter Park, 100 Aunt Hack Road in Danbury, on Saturday, July 12. 

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