Get your toes ready for tapping — “Anything Goes” has sailed back into town! And if you don’t come into the theater already humming the tunes, you certainly will be on your way home, because the music makes the play.
The musical that features one of the best scores of Cole Porter, a top Broadway composer from the 1930s — “You’re the Top,” “Friendship,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” are three of its hit songs — just ended a long run on Broadway, but has docked closer to home thanks to Maggie's Little Theater in Middle Village, where it will give three more performances on July 20, 21 and 22.
The show, which has been entertaining audiences since 1934, has seen several Broadway revivals over the years as well as a couple of film versions. Each time the show is revived, it seems to undergo a transformation, with changes to its book and additions and deletions of songs.
But the story line remains fairly intact. Set primarily on board the USS American, the plot involves the goings-on among an assortment of characters including Reno Sweeney, an evangelist and a night club owner (a role created by Ethel Merman); a Wall Street broker named Billy, who is in love with a debutante named Hope; a wealthy Englishman named Sir Evelyn, who happens to be Hope’s fiance; and a couple of gangsters, including Moonface Martin, better known as Public Enemy No. 13.
Romantic complications abound, as do cases of mistaken identity and a host of misinterpreted colloquialisms.
Incredibly enough, it took a total of six authors to write the fluffy material, four of whom worked on the original book and two who updated it, giving the show a much-needed modernization and providing it with some of its funnier lines and moments.
But the show’s selling point has always been its score and, under the baton of musical director Frank Auriemma, “Maggie’s Little Orchestra,” a septet of skilled musicians, makes the songs sound as fresh as ever. During the overture, nearly everyone in Sunday’s matinee audience seemed to be keeping time or singing along.
The curtains part to reveal set designer Ed Voyer’s impressive double-decker cruise ship on which the performers can spread out and give the two big production numbers all they’ve got.
The title number, featuring some of choreographer Lindsay Levy’s more demanding moves, comes closest to stopping the show, belted by the diminutive Monica Barczak as Reno, with fine support from the full-voiced company. It brings the first act to a rousing conclusion.
Barczak, as different from Merman as can be, is more reminiscent of Sutton Foster, who played the role in the recent Broadway revival. She delivers her many numbers with verve.
As Billy, Gary Ducoing is entrusted with several of Porter’s loveliest ballads, including “Easy to Love” and “All Through the Night.” He and Barczak have a lot of fun with “You’re the Top,” a list-song replete with once-topical references.
Making a return visit to Maggie’s stage is Joe Paciullo, who is in top form here as “Moonface,” weaving his way in and out of trouble.
Olivia Holm sings pleasantly enough as Hope, but she lacks spark, a flaw she shares with Kim Guarino as her mother Evangeline.
Erik Neilssen assumes an appropriate accent as Hope’s intended and earns laughs as he reveals a family secret in his solo, “The Gypsy in Me.”
Alan Perkins has good comic timing as Billy’s boss, as does Monica Ortiz, who plays Moonface’s moll. She also does a fine job of belting the show’s closing number, the little known “Buddy Beware.”
Director Bill Logan unwisely has several of the performers playing to the audience rather than to each other during musical duets, but he keeps the production cruising at a steady pace.
The evocative costumes add to the overall effect.
When: July 20 and 21 at 8 p.m., July 22 at 2:30 p.m.
Where: St. Margaret Parish Hall, 66-05 79 Place, Middle Village
Tickets: $15; $13 seniors; $10 children