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'Anything Goes' is no stretch for Children's Theater


Cole Porter's sassy, hit-studded "Anything Goes" might have seemed something of a reach for the Children's Theater of Annapolis, which has tended to seek theatrical fare more conducive to younger voices.

One needn't have worried, because the theater has access to some precocious youngsters who team up to create an engaging, colorful production that is eminently worth seeing.

This "Anything Goes" is dominated by Tiffani Baldwin as Reno Sweeney, the nightclub-singing evangelist who falls for an English aristocrat en route to the Mother Country. With Reno's shipboard activities punctuated by such hits as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and the show's title song thrown in for good measure, the role is a demanding one. Miss Baldwin does not disappoint.

At 17, she maintains a startlingly mature, glamorous presence on stage. She sings well and moves beautifully. One gets the feeling that there isn't much she can't do.

Nearly as good is Greg Marzullo, a young man from the Baltimore School for the Arts who plays Billy Crocker. Billy is the romantic prankster who woos Hope Harcourt, his upper-crust sweetie, away from Reno's British heartthrob.

Erin Jankowski sings beautifully as the ingenue, while Laurie Frank is suitably obnoxious as Hope's meddlesome mama who wants her daughter betrothed to the Englishman as quickly as possible.

The comic leads are deftly handled. Ben Lambert of Severna Park High School is very funny as Moonface Martin, the gangster who wouldn't hurt a fly, and Karen Zucco is suitably ditsy as Bonnie, Moonie's floozy girlfriend.

On the less praiseworthy side of the ledger, the choral numbers lacked energy and the segues into the musical numbers frequently were awkward. And surely more rhythmic impetus could have been provided by the conductor and her pit band. It's amazing that the dance numbers didn't disintegrate totally, so flaccid was the pulse set throughout.

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