Everything Went ‘Delightful, Delicious, D’Lovely’ at ‘Anything Goes’


Photo courtesy Arena Stage

Broadway and ‘High School Musical’ actor Corbin Bleu played Billy Crocker in Arena Stage’s production of the classic musical ‘Anything Goes’ Nov. 2- Dec. 23.

Elenna Mach, Editor-in-Chief

The lights dim down and a spotlight hits the theatre stage as a man emerges, and with the flick of his wrist, ignites and conducts a cascade of harmonious instruments that reflect the atmosphere of the “SS American” on its way to London from New York in the musical “Anything Goes” at Arena Stage in Washington D.C.

Soon to follow, are leads stowaway Billy Crocker, played by Corbin Bleu, and Reno Sweeney played by Soara- Joye Ross. They begin the story of Crocker’s quest to win over the love of his life, Hope Harcourt, played by Lisa Helmi Johanson, with the help of his newfound friends.

Artistic director Molly Smith’s take on the original book and the 1934 musical of “Anything Goes” kept the audience eager to witness the thrilling acts and dancers in a production filled with a string of classic humor, catchy songs, lively acting and exhilarating dance numbers.

The production lasts from Nov. 2 until Dec. 23. The Nov. 14 opening night in the intimate, boat-like setting of Fichandler Stage allowed the audience to feel like they were a part of the production.

Although the book was originally written in the 1930s by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, Arena Stage’s interpretation was meant to embody present-day America through its plot and cast.

“I’m excited to be tackling this musical today. America is in an ‘anything goes’ moment. You can be whatever you want to be– and fool most of the people most of the time,” Smith said in a Sept. 6 press release. “Joined by a wonderful creative team who are taking this on with all the glamour and verve of the ‘30s, we will bring this classic musical into the current moment.”

Although the sense of humor appealed to older audience members, given that it originally took place in the ‘30s, the younger crowd can still enjoy the show and be encouraged to attend through Arena Stage’s Pay Your Age Program for those under 30 years old. With this program, a person’s age determines the ticket price while regular tickets range from $51 to $105.

However, for any of these prices, the show is worth the money. The dance numbers and songs were the highlight of the production, most notably the songs “It’s De-lovely” and “Anything Goes” and the tap dance finale with the whole cast. The finale was up-beat and the dancing tight. The rhythm and choreography by Parker Esse made the audience want to move their own feet and sing along to the music. Through the preciseness of their on-stage performance, it is evident that the cast and crew alike worked tirelessly to put on an entertaining show for their audience.

“Each artist working on this show has their own definition of success. We are collaborating to tell this joyous story and provide a delightful escape for our audiences,” swing Allie O’Donnell said. “We want to make the audience feel joy, laugh and forget their troubles for two-and-a-half hours each night. If we are able to do that, we have a hit on our hands.”

The acting was exceptional, in particular, the two leads, Bleu and Ross. Bleu is well-known for his performance in Broadway’s “Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical” and the movie most teens are familiar with, Disney Channel’s “High School Musical.” Ross is known for Off-Broadway’s “Carmen Jones. The actors were committed to their roles and passionately played their parts to execute an enjoyable show.

Overall, “Anything Goes” was a hit and anyone who does go will be captivated by the upbeat music and thrilling dancing.