Anything Goes

50 Shades of Porthouse Theatre Presents a Fantabulous Production of Anything Goes

Professional Equity House Theatre

Review by: Kevin Kelly

First off, let me explain that title. I was being a little cheeky. Porthouse Theatre is now celebrating its 50th season! What an incredible journey and accomplishment. You can read all about it in the program because I'm not going to let you not see this show. If you love the classic fun-loving American musical that you can take your grandparents, family, and every person that deserves a fun evening of joy, this production is it!

All I can tell you is that this production is so much fun, the singing is beautiful and hot, the dancing is some of the best I have ever seen at Porthouse, and it just explodes with entertainment. Director/Producing Artistic Director Terri J. Kent*^ just threw one of the best theatrical parties I have been to in a long time. By the end of this production, I went home and threw away by Prozac, and starting tap dancing on my porch.

Anything Goes is set aboard the ocean liner S. S. American, where nightclub singer/evangelist Reno Sweeney (magical Sandra Emerick*) is en route from New York to England. Her pal Billy Crocker (charming Matthew Gittins) has stowed away to be near his love, Hope Harcourt (radiant Liz Woodard), but the problem is Hope is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (hilarious Eric van Baars*). Joining this love triangle on board the luxury liner are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin ( terrific Christopher Seiler*) and his sidekick-in-crime Erma (sassy Kelli-Ann Paterwic). With the help of some elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors and good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart. Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, Original book by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, Revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, New book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman,

It is very possible I might run out of compliments for this production. I loved everything. If the ship had a steam engine it would be the imitable Emerick. Her broad talents are on full display. Her character work, her voice, her dance, her comedic timing, her scene chewing, was outstanding, and so much fun to watch. Her wardrobe was beautiful, as she turned out to be "the lady in red", with incredible design work by Costume Designer Sarah Russell. Her battling cohort van Baars, was cracking me up the whole time. His comedic prowess is a master class of funny. So enjoyable to watch, and his voice is great as well. When Emerick and van Baars go after each other in the song "Gypsy in Me", Porthouse turns into the Roman Colosseum, as we watch two titanic comedic Gladiators go after each other like there is one chicken leg on the floor, and they both haven't eaten in a month. MASTERFULL! Woodward as Hope was just perfect. She is radiant on stage, her voice is like a stick of butter melting over your heart. That's probably not healthy, but you get the idea. Adept acting, and holds her own in the chaos surrounding her. As her suitor, Gittins bring his Stark Sands quality to Billy. Handsome, debonair, and a velvet voice to boot. He handles the duties of being one of the main characters in this show with professional finesse. There is a nice connection between Gittins and the appealing Woodard.

Jess Tanner* is a hoot as Evangeline Harcourt. (As I was typing Evangeline, "Ms. Vangee" went through my head). What a delight aristocratically fussing about the stage, with the cutest dog in the world, and not getting upstaged. Great stuff and schtick. Rohn Thomas* was cracking me up as Elisha Whitney, delivering a wonderful character actor tour de force. And the crazy couple of Moonface and Erma played to the hilt by Seiler and Paterwic. Here is a couple that could take that show on the road. Seiler is so much fun as a conniving gangster and can crank out of tune as well with just the right entertaining craziness. Paterwic, is a scream. She reminded me of a young Bernadette Peters. Her stage presence is fantabulous, as is her character. She comes across as an audience pleaser and a triple threat of joy.

The rest of the cast is so full of life and energy that I find it hard to believe their performance wouldn't transport you to a better place. One highlight is the Angels, Purity, Chasity, Charity, Cheeky, and Virtue, Felicity Jemo, Abby Morris, Katelyn Cassidy, Luna Cho, and Falyn Mapel. Talk about fierce. When they line up, it looked like they would take on the course of America Ninja Warriors. Which comes to the whole dancing company. Just incredible dancing and execution. I didn't see one moment where anyone was out of step, or character, or breath. I mean, I got winded walking up the ramp to buy an ice cream bar. 

Terri Kent you have outdone yourself. What a wonderful show to kick off the 50th season. So much love and energy filled the theatre and that is a direct compliment to you for inspiring that energy under your vision. And how gracious and educational to bring on Tekla Gaughan as Assistant Director. MaryAnn Black*, your work in this show is a prime example of you taking it to another level. Under your guidance, these kids knocked in out the theatre and landed it in Blossom. I haven't seen dancing like that anywhere in a long time. Your tap numbers were incredible, and then when the score skipped to a jazz feel, the choreography blended in and out seamlessly. Your staging and choreography was magic. AS WERE YOUR DANCERS! Musical Director Jennifer Koreck brought it. The cast sounded wonderful, and the band kicked some major nautical butt. THAT TRUMPET PLAYER! #davebanksisatrumpetstud. Lighting Design totally on point. Special shout out to the spot operators who were great. Costume Designer Sarah Russell killed it. Loved all the looks. You created a sparkling era perfect costume parade. And the lifesaver on the doggie, thank you. Scenic Designer Rob Wolin+ brought a wonderful, easy to work set to the proceedings. Aided the pace of the show well, and showed off the good when need be. Technical Director Steve Pauna brought all the elements together nicely. Sound Designer Tyler Forbes did a pitch-perfect job. Stage Manager Kelly Cosgrove* called a great show.

I had so much fun, that if I wasn't short on cash, my entire body would have been covered in those blinky things.

Go take your family out to see this show, and tell me how you like it.

Cleveland Stage Alliance

*Members of Actors Equity Association.
^Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.
+represented by United Scenic Artist Local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Thru June 30


8pm Tuesdays
8pm Wednesdays
8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$27-$38 Reserved Seating

(330) 672-3884
Order Tickets Online

Porthouse Theatre
Blossom Music Center
1145 W Steels Corners Rd
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223