“Anything Goes” at Arena Stage is Wacky Fun

By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

1) (L to R) Lisa Helmi Johanson (Hope Harcourt) and Corbin Bleu (Billy Crocker) in Anything Goes running through December 23, 2018 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Are you looking for a respite from your responsibilities? An antidote to your anxieties? Look no further than the waterfront of DC and the bright, fun, zany and altogether uplifting show, “Anything Goes” now playing at Arena Stage. When this production opened in 1934 with P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton’s book and music and lyrics by Cole Porter, it charmed the world weary masses. Today it’s still working! With a slightly updated book (it’s still very silly with Public Enemy #13 dressing up in various disguises to attract less attention onboard, only to be sought after when there are no real celebrities for the captain’s table…I told you it was silly…), and those Cole Porter songs crooned by delightful singers and danced by happy hoofers, you’ll want to laugh and sing all your troubles away, too!

2) Soara-Joye Ross (Reno Sweeney) and the cast of Anything Goes. Photo by Maria Baranova.

If none of the foregoing is of interest to you, perhaps Corbin Blue, whom you may have seen in “High School Musical” or on TV’s Dancing with the Stars, will charm you. He’s just the right pick for this show with an easy charm, a lovely singing voice and manner, and great dancing chops! He’s the perfect Billy Crocker to Sorara-Joye Ross’s sharp-edged Reno Sweeney (originally played by Ethel Merman). She’s a great dancer, but truly takes the stage and holds it in her songs. And there are lots of other terrific roles and actors/singers/dancers in this show; you really should experience it for yourself! But wait, did I tell you there’s an adorable dog in the cast? Yep!

What, you say, is this show about? Two hours and 40 minutes. Just kidding. Here it is in a nutshell: The SS American has set sail from NY to London. Aboard, the lovelorn Billy has stowed away on a mission to stop the marriage of his mystery muse, heiress Hope Harcourt, to the millionaire Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Now, it is up to Billy with the help of showgirls, sailors and Moonface Martin (played by the wild and wonderfully limber limbed Stephen DeRosa) to find, woo and win back his true love. Unlikely alliances arise as mischief and mayhem ensue in this madcap musical. What is not to love?

3) (L to R) Lisa Tejero (Evangeline Harcourt) and Thomas Adrian Simpson (Elisha Whitney) in Anything Goes. Photo by Maria Baranova.

The set has a big role in this musical, too. The in-the-round Fichandler Stage with very few set pieces makes a perfect showcase for showing off the luxurious costumes, tailored to the long, lithe bodies of the ladies of the Lady Fair Quartet, including adorable little sailor suits with tap pants, and glorious sequined gowns from the 30’s era. Additionally the versatile, sturdy ocean liner set has a platform on an elevator that can move into place in an instant so when the big tap numbers come, the sound and look is stunning!

All in all, it’s a fun evening with tons of cheer, a great cast, an 8-piece orchestra and the croonable, toe-tapping songs of Cole Porter. It’s De-Lovely!

“Anything Goes” Directed by Molly Smith, Choreographed by Parker Esse, Music Direction by Paul Sportelli, Set Design by Ken Macdonald, Costume Design by Alejo Vietti, Lighting Design by Kimberly Purtell, Sound Design by Daniel Erdberg. With Jimmy Ray Bennett, Corbin Bleu, Julio Catano-Yee, Stephen DeRosa, Ben Gunderson, Jonathan Holmes, Lisa Helmi Johanson, Brent McBeth, Mickey Orange, Lizz Picini, Kristyn Pope, Maria Rizzo, Soara-Joye Ross, Christopher Shin, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Lisa Tejero, DeMoya Watson Brown, Andrea Weinzierl, Nicholas Yenson, Maximillian Moonshine, Olly, Allie O’Donnell, Brett Uram. About 2 hours 40 minutes with one intermission. Through December 23 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, Washington, DC. Call 202-488-3300 or click on

Sara Dudley Brown

Sara Dudley Brown is the Theatre Editor of The Zebra Press. She graduated with a music degree in voice from Rollins College Conservatory of Music in Winter Park Florida. After several years of professional singing and acting (Disney World and The Kenley Theatres as well as voice-over and film here in the DMV area), trying and failing miserably at being Barbra Streisand (the post was already filled), Sara decided to take her lifelong love of music and the theatre to create a profession which would use everything she had learned theatrically and musically over the years—corporate event production and management. She began with department store events, working for the May Company putting on events in 18 stores, and went on to found her own corporate event management company. She recently retired after 30 years of mounting mega events internationally and domestically for some of the world’s top aviation manufacturers. Now Sara is once again using her years of theatrical work as well as her musical training to review Metro Area professional theatre productions for The Zebra Press. She thinks this is a much more sane way to live and never tires of the excitement of a theatre opening!

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