A ship brimming with talent and filled with Cole Porter's incomparable music is cruising along in "Anything Goes" at Chesapeake Music Hall through Nov. 20.
Everything about Chesapeake Music Hall director Sherry Kay's production of "Anything Goes" sparkles: the cast she has assembled, the sleek ship set she designed, the costumes she created and her distinctive choreography.
Musical director Anita O'Connor has drawn pleasing interpretations of Porter's score from the singers, with emphasis on clear enunciation of his lyrics. She has also come up with a fine tape of musical instruments, a vintage one borrowed from Annapolis Summer Garden Theater. The tape sounds especially impressive on the new equipment that technical director Garrett Hyde recently added.
Nori Morton makes a stunning CMH debut in the lead role of Reno Sweeney, nightclub singer-turned-evangelist. Elegant and graceful, Morton delivers "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick Out of You" and the title song in distinctive style. This is no small accomplishment, considering that many of us in the audience could compare her performance to recordings by so many famous singers we've heard over the past three or four decades.
With a string of credits elsewhere, Patrick Wenning makes an exciting CMH debut playing male lead Billy Crocker, a stowaway stockbroker pursuing debutante Hope Harcourt. Wenning's baritone is suited to the role, and he may be one of the best male dancers I've seen at Chesapeake Music Hall. Although he missed a few lines, Wenning's acting is believable and his demeanor charming.
Among Reno's quartet of angels, Ashley Adkins as Chastity is especially heavenly. Together, the four -- Chastity, Charity, Purity and Virtue -- add fun and grace, contributing a high moment of dancing and tambourine-tapping in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow."
Peter Kaiser runs between funny and hilarious as Moon Face Martin, reprising the role he performed two seasons ago at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. In every scene he shares with his real-life wife, Mary Armour-Kaiser, though, it is tough to see anyone else on stage.
Armour-Kaiser as Bonnie is a superb comic and fine dancer, energetic and loose with her signature shoulder movements and nifty tapping. She can also sell a great song in fine style.
As debutante Hope Harcourt, Sheri Kay Kuznicki reprises the role she did two seasons ago at ASGT, when her acting was a bit stiff but her singing first-rate. Kuznicki's acting is more natural now. Danielle Treuberg, as Hope's prudish mother, Mrs. Harcourt, has more fun than seems possible, kicking up her heels in dance.
CMH regular David B. Reynolds again proves his versatility as he romps through the role of Sir Evelyn, relishing a strong rapport with Morton's Reno that culminates in an amusingly salacious "Let's Misbehave." Reynolds puts his own stamp on Sir Evelyn when, with one eyebrow wickedly cocked, he sings, "There's something wild about you, child, that's so contagious. Let's be outrageous, let's misbehave."
"Anything Goes" will continue through Nov. 20. Call 410-626-7515 or 800-406-0306 for reservations.
Pub Date: 9/16/99