Timeless Cole Porter tunes are anchored by great voices.
YOUNGSTOWN -- If you're looking for a de-lovely way to spend a couple weekend hours, check out YSU's production of "Anything Goes." This toe-tapping, foot-stomping romantic comedy/musical will whisk you back to the 1930s in a delightful adventure of mismatched lovers, mistaken identities, comic chaos, and a happy ending, sung to the timeless tunes of Cole Porter.
The basic plot is simple: Reno is in love with Billy. Billy's in love with Hope. And Hope is engaged to Lord Evelyn. They all find themselves on a ship, the SS American, and everything all works out in the end. This fast-paced, high-energy show was right on cue at each moment. A small pit orchestra, directed by David Keith Stiver, provided lively accompaniment.
The main character is Reno Sweeney, played by Liz Rubino, a junior. From the moment she opened her mouth to sing the first song "I Get a Kick Out of You" (I get no kick from champagne ...), she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Even singing with the whole company, her powerful voice stood out.
The absolute show-stopper of the evening was the finale to Act One. The company dances tap, and a bit of swing, as Reno belts out the theme song, "Anything Goes." The energy in this one -- choreographed by cast members Richard Bell and Alecia M. Sarkis -- had the audience cheering and clapping before it ended.
Bell, who plays Billy, is a junior musical theater major, shooting for New York when he graduates. "Most of the cast never saw tap shoes," he said. "I'm so proud of everyone. They were all so adamant to do this. They would practice for hours and hours, coming a half-hour before rehearsal started at 5:30, and staying until 9:30." Bell's role as Billy was equally impressive. His duet with Hope, singing "It's De-Lovely," was a highlight.
Great work all around
Sarkis, the other choreographer, is a senior. Her character, Erma, was perhaps the most comical of all. Her deliciously naughty flirting with all the sailors kept the audience laughing, and her vocal highlight came as she sang, "Buddie, Beware."
Heidi Davis, another senior, played Hope, one of the more serious characters. Her solo rendition of "Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye," was just beautiful.
But perhaps the biggest surprise was Jonathan Edward Yurco, who played the stuffy and rigid Brit who didn't understand American slang. He let down his hair in the sexy tango scene with Reno, singing "The Gypsy in Me," to the delight and laughter of the audience. Anthony Scarsella played hysterically funny Moonface Martin, the stowaway gangster, who had the audience in stitches as he sang "Be Like the Bluebird."
The show closed to cheers and whistles from the crowd.