By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Upon entering the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) the eye is quickly drawn to the stage and its lavish décor. As frequent visitors to this magnificent venture and the fabulous entertainment offered by WBT owners Bill Stutler and Bob Funking, we have come to anticipant this level of creativity. The set design by Steve Loftus for Cole Porter’s Anything Goes can be added to the long list of imaginative and artful creations we have seen on stage. The set depicts an ornate façade of a luxury cruise ship, which is the plot’s focal point. Gargantuan in size, complete with “state rooms” and steps, railings, balcony and massive smoke stacks, add to the opulence of a bygone era ocean liner. The story takes place aboard a cruise to Europe, with a cast of characters ripe for mishaps, miscommunications, and heartbreak, with an undetected romance.
This is the WBT’s 206th production. Running now through September 9, it is the perfect way to relax with friends, enjoy a lunch or dinner while being transported back in time via this classic 1940’s Cole Porter musical. Growing up I still recall some of the television shows my parents watched that were variety shows that emphasized musical numbers. Popular tunes of the day were played on programs like Your Hit Parade, Perry Como Show, or the Nat King Cole show, singing current and nostalgic tunes. Now seeing Anything Goes, I’ve learned where many of these classic songs originated. Not to be over shadowed by the songs, this play is known for its outstanding dance numbers, too. Considered one of best tap dancing musicals, the score includes the most memorable standards including, I Get a Kick Out of You, You’re the Top, It’s De-Lovely, Blow, Gabriel, Blow, Friendship and many more. The story is simple, a brassy nightclub singer, a starry-eyed stowaway and Public Enemy No. 13 are booked on a transatlantic luxury liner bound for romance and laughter. Add a debutante whose family is bankrupt and wants her to marry an older, wealthy English lord, although she is not in love with him. Tap dancing numbers are spectacular, with Richard Stafford as Director of Choreography creative and the costumes glitzy with a large cast filling the stage in every dance number! It is truly an extravaganza reminiscent of the best musicals of days gone by! Fast paced and packed with humorous one-liners straight from the 1940’s, the audience is propelled to a simpler time, when comedy was light and the plot line constantly moving. Will the woman marry her boorish suitor or will she discover that someone else on board is her true love? Will the talented showgirl entertainer be destined never to find a man that can provide what she demands in the way of prestige and power? Will the bumbling gangster and his somewhat sleazy moll arrive in England, without being apprehended?
WBT casts are consistently spot on for the part they play and this show continues the tradition featuring Stacia Fernandez (as Reno Sweeney), Tina Johnson (Mrs. Harcourt), Kevin Pariseau (Lord Evelyn), Jon Peterson (Moonface Martin), Mychal Phillips (Erma), Jackie Raye (Hope), Zach Trimmer (Billy) and Bob Walton (Elisha Whitney). Supported by a multi-talented ensemble: Leeds Hill, Kelly Black, Katie Brunson, Mike Baskowski, Caroline Chisholm, Joseph Cullinane, Will Geoghegan, Kelly Gleason, Thadd Krueger, Seth Lerner, Lily Lewis, Mallory Nolting, Jason Rath, Joey Simon. Directed & choreographed by Richard Stafford and Musical Director is Patrick Hoagland. Special mention has to be made about Stacia Fernandez, as Reno Sweeny, whose singing, as she “belted out each song, brought to mind Broadways Ethel Merman. Speaking of Ms. Merman, the first production of Anything Goes opened at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway in 1934 and went on to be one of the smash hits of the decade. The musical also reaffirmed Ethel Merman’s status as the reigning queen of the Broadway Musical. Ms. Fernandez performed numerous songs and each one was fantastic, clearly making her a forefront talent in this production. Another strong and beautiful voice was that of Zach Trimmer, playing the handsome lead, Billy Crocker, who was in love with the debutante seemingly destined to marry another. Casting for romantic duos at the WBT are so believable, audiences hope that the two actually overcome the obstacles the storyline sets for them. Don’t miss this summer stunner and the entertainment joy it brings!
The WBT dinner theatre continues to offer the best value around for top-notch entertainment and conveniently located. Amble free parking is available. Creative dishes such as prime rib, sole, chicken, pork, and vegetarian entrees are on the dinner menu, each with suggested wine a complement. Assorted rolls, salad, and scrumptious desserts top it all off. During matinee performances lunch choices are served. For tickets and information call the Box Office at (914) 592-2222. Group reservations and discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. For Group Reservations call (914) 592-2225. There are also discounts for children, students, and senior citizens at selected performances. The WBT is located at 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford. This is a night out on the town, with affordable prices and a convenient drive from anywhere in Westchester and nearby counties. For show times, including evening and matinee performances call the above numbers or visit the WBT website at www.broadwaytheatre.com.
Future WBT Mainstage Shows:
Phantom – September 13 – November 2
A Christmas Carol – November 29 – December 23
Phantom returns – December 27- January 27, 2019