Friday, June 10, 2016


BTG wraps 87th season
by Christopher Key

I was supposed to review Teri Grimes’ production of Anything Goes on Tuesday, but I had a nasty bug that I graciously refused to share with the cast and crew.  You’re welcome.  So I sneaked into Thursday’s VIP night and since it was Cole Porter’s birthday it was obviously meant to be.

Yes, there’s a storyline of sorts from a book by Tim Crouse and John Weidman, but this show is all about the music.  Grimes understands this sort of thing better than anyone and assembled a cast of thou…well, dozens to make it sing.  It’s about as big a production as the BTG can hold and it’s a good thing they’re about to replace the foundation.

It ain’t easy to get the kind of big band this show demands into the BTG space, but Grimes squeezes them in backstage and gives them a bow before the show.  The ubiquitous TJ Anderson serves as musical director and the players truly rock.  I’d list them all, but I have a day job.

Anything Goes is set aboard a steamship crossing the Atlantic and everyone knows that people behave abnormally on a boat.  Throw in some of Porter’s racy lyrics and you’ve got a swingin’ scene that still manages a PG rating.

Photo credit - Jay Solomon

BTG newbie Amanda Carpp makes a scintillating debut as Reno Sweeney, the showgirl/evangelist/con artist extraordinaire.  She’s a former Disneyland cast member and seems to have recovered with all her chops intact.

Photo credit - Jay Solomon

Will Dubiel, last seen in The Drowsy Chaperone brings his trademark naïveté to the role of Billy Crocker, who is not as innocent as he looks.  His voice is a bit reminiscent of Dennis Day and anyone under 60 will have to look that one up.

Photo credit - Jay Solomon

The multi-talented David Cohn has been spreading his theatrical wings over the past few years and hiccups his way through the role of Elisha Whitney with élan.  Cohn likes to sing and dance and can even do both at the same time!

Photo credit - Jay Solomon

Do I really need to point out once again that Paul Henderson II is one of the best performers on the local scene?  I’ll just say that he’s his usual singing/dancing/acting amazing self and let it go at that.

Photo credit - John Phillip

It’s been far too long since we’ve seen Deborah Blakesley onstage.  It’s worth the wait as she torches her way through the role of Erma with that astounding voice and utterly charming stage presence.

Photo credit - Jay Solomon

Jordan Smith brings a solid Brit accent and a thoroughly Bertie Wooster presence to the role of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.  Upper-class Twit of the Year?  No perspiration.

There’s a wealth of other talent in this mighty cast and some of them will be pissed because I didn’t mention them.  Blame it on the techies, whose praises I need to sing because this is a smasheroo.

Russ Nelson designed a set that Cole Porter would call “swell!”  Genny Cohn owns the local costume scene the way Warren Buffett owns everything else.  Kat Riehl and Emma Delaney have the cast dancing like everyone’s watching and will blow you away with the tap numbers.  Dee O’Connor pushes the photons and Ryan Goelzenleuchter wrangles the audio.

Anything Goes plays June 10 – 26 at the BTG Playhouse, 1600 H Street.  Tickets are available by calling the box office Tuesday – Saturday 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (360) 733-1811 or online.  Do it now because this is a sure sellout.

You get extra points for identifying the Donald Trump joke.

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