“The world has gone mad today . . .” Anything Goes at The Arts Center

Shannon Lee Jones stars as Reno Sweeny

Starting its third week at The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Cole Porter’s hilarious musical, Anything Goes, has played to standing ovations at every performance.  Come join the fun.  Anything Goes runs now through December 30, and tickets are at 843-842-ARTS (2787) or www.artshhi.com

Maybe it’s extra funny to see that we’re not the first generation to think that the world’s a little upside-down.  Maybe it’s the timeless talent of Cole Porter, who turned being naughty in polite society into a fine art.  Maybe it’s this cast of Broadway babies who can tap all the way to the stage light moon and back, or the lead actors who make us feel this hilarious tenderness as if it were new.

Jessica Moore makes bad look good as Erma

Whatever the reason, Anything Goes is a hit, and this is anything but the first time.  Originally produced in 1934, the year Cole Porter moved into the Waldorf Towers on the wave of his success and celebrity, Anything Goes almost defies the term “revival” because it has rarely been at rest.  The 1988 production at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center, staring Patti Lupone, won three Tony Awards, and the 2011 production, starring Sutton Foster, won two.

Jordon from Hilton Head Island emailed, “… the Arts Center and Casey Colgan have a holiday present for all to see.”

The Arts Center production stars Shannon Lee Jones as Reno Sweeny.  Shannon is a Broadway veteran and a Hilton Head Island favorite, having lit up Mame, Hairspray and The Drowsy Chaperone, among many others on the Arts Center stage.  William Joseph Lewis, as Billy Crocker, Sarah Claire Smith, as Hope Harcourt, Seth Golay as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Jessica Moore as Erma and R. Bruce Connelly, as Moonface Martin (“Public enemy #13.  Help.  Police.”) are just a few more reasons this production is packed with what it takes to move an audience to its feet.

Director Casey Colgan took extra care to see that every theatre fan got a full fix of Cole Porter.  Two favorite songs that are not part of the Anything Goes “book” are included in the Arts Center production.  Finding that “Night And Day” is perhaps the most popular Cole Porter composition, Casey put it in the show.  Musical Director John Bell wrote an original arrangement to present “Night And Day” as a medley and descant with “All Through The Night” in the scene where “All Through The Night” usually appears alone.

R. Bruce Connelly’s “Take Me Back To Manhattan”

Casey also substituted the rousing “Take Me Back To Manhattan” and choreographed a dance around it, in place of the novelty song, “Be Like The Bluebird,” which Moonface normally sings in the second act.  The result is an even livelier Act II and a perfect showcase for Bruce Connelly’s hall-filling talent as singer, dancer and character actor.

Even starting with a proven winner, no stone was left unturned to make the Arts Center’s production of Anything Goes into an evening you just won’t forget.  Do put this special evening into your Holiday plans.  Yes, I’m biased, fortunate to be a small part of the cast.  But that just makes me all the more certain of this:  regardless of which side of the curtain you’re on,  Anything Goes will be one of your great Holiday memories.