Anything Goes (2018)

music and lyrics by Cole Porter
book by Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse,
Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
March 1-24, 2018
Marcelle Theater
Show Webpage
Production Photos

Moonface Martin – Aaron Allen
Bonnie Letour – Sarah Gene Dowling
Hope Harcourt – Eileen Engel
Sir Evelyn Oakleigh – Zachary Allen Farmer
Billy Crocker – Evan Fornachon
Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt – Kimmie Kidd-Booker
Reno Sweeney – Sarah Porter
Elisha J. Whitney – Jeffrey M. Wright
Purity – Michelle Sauer
Chastity – Larissa White
Charity – Alyssa Wolf
Virtue – Sara Rae Womack
Bishop/Captain – Dominic Dowdy-Windsor
Reporter/Purser – Will Pendergast
Everybody Else – Jason Blackburn, Clayton Humburg

Conductor/Piano – Nicolas Valdez
Trumpet – Ron Foster
Second Keyboard – Joel Hackbarth
Percussion – Clancy Newell
Guitar/Banjo – Adam Rugo
Bass – Jake Stergos

Directors – Scott Miller, Mike Dowdy-Windsor
Music Director – Nicolas Valdez
Choreographers – Michelle Sauer, Sara Rae Womack
Stage Manager – Erin Goodenough
Scenic & Lighting Designer – Rob Lippert
Costume Designer – Colene Fornachon
Asst Costume Designer – Sarah Porter
Sound Designer – Ryan Day
Props Master – Kimi Short
Volunteer Coordinator – Alison Helmer
Graphic Designer – Matt Reedy
Photographer – Jill Ritter Lindberg
Scenic Artists – Grace Brunstein, Judy Brunstein,
Tamar Crump, Kathleen Dwyer, Mattilyn Johnson,
Gary Karasek, Marija Metiva
Scenic Crew – Richard Brown, Nick Brunstein, Melanie Kozak,
Patrick Donnigan, Paul Troyke, Kate Wilkerson

“At New Line, Anything Goes looks funnier, sharper and smarter than you may remember. . . a spectacular treat for lovers of modern musical theater. . . .Anything Goes is not to be missed. A must for New Line fans and a great introduction to the troupe for newcomers, this spirited, in-your-face production of the Cole Porter classic feels as sharp as the needle on a new Victrola. . . The whole cast shines in this laugh-out-loud production, frequently punctuated by music (thanks to conductor Nicolas Valdez and a smart little band) and dance (thanks to choreographers Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack). From the evangelism parody 'Blow, Gabriel, Blow' to the hilarious encouragement Moonface offers Billy in 'Be Like the Bluebird,' New Line's Anything Goes provides non-stop entertainment without ever getting serious.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor have a gift for finding the most talented performers for their productions, and this show is no exception. The entire cast of Anything Goes is simply marvelous. . . The New Line Band sounds great as they honor Cole Porter with their performance of his best work. And the cast looks great as the dance to the terrific choreography of Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack. Everything about the show is extraordinary, and I couldn’t wipe the silly grin off my face until long after the final number. New Line has yet another hit on their hands, as they introduce audiences to a version of Anything Goes that they are not likely to have seen before. And in my opinion, the very best version possible.” – Kevin Brackett, ReviewSTL

“Is Scott Miller finally mellowing out after all these years doing shows like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Celebration, and Jerry Springer the Opera? In a word, no—the New Line Theatre motto is alive and well. Think of a veteran baseball pitcher renowned for a nasty curve. Time and time again the hitter comes to the plate knowing that he’s going to see that hook. This time, Scott surprises the hitter with a fastball down the middle. . . As usual, New Line gets it right. . . this is Anything Goes as it’s meant to be performed and witnessed.” – Jeff Ritter, Critical Blast

“It's a strange choice for St. Louis' self-proclaimed 'bad boy of musical theater,' New Line Theatre. And yet, here we are, with directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor charging right up the gangplank of the S.S. Fantasy America. Working with the 1962 version of the script and incorporating Miller's standard deep research into the original show's origins, the boys have found an Anything Goes that's sharper, tarter and more satisfying than you'd think possible. In all honesty, I haven't laughed so much at any play in quite some time. And it's not just the zany comedy that gets you; it's the skewering of the super-rich, talentless celebrities, the British and indeed anything else that walks across the ship's deck.” – Paul Friswold, Riverfront Times

“With a smart, energized supporting cast deftly directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, New Line Theatre blends silly comedy, stylish music and effervescent performances in a winning combination which cleverly utilizes all hands on deck. . . Cole Porter knew how to write tunes with smart lyrics and snappy music, and New Line Theatre finds the heart in this 1962 version of the good-humored Anything Goes.” – Mark Bretz, Ladue News

“Those clever lyrics and dynamite book work perfectly for this always inventive local treasure that is New Line. . . As usual, Artistic Director Scott Miller, with co-director Mike Dowdy-Windsor, has put together a superb cast of actors/singers who carry off the powerful music with strict attention to the charm and wit of the dialogue. . . Miller and company have proven once again that they can make their own imprint on any musical -- even a revered classic like this one.” – Steve Allen, Stagedoor St. Louis

“A full moon illuminated the Friday night sky, and that moonglow permeated New Line Theatre’s production of Anything Goes, giving this timeless screwball comedy extra oomph. Two obvious takeaways from opening night: Never take this old warhorse for granted, and the frisky ensemble is having tons o’ fun pretending to set sail.. . . Kicky and kooky, this Anything Goes is a buoyant blast from the past that revitalizes one of the great, grand old musicals with charm, humor and style.” – Lynn Venhaus, St. Louis Limelight

“New Line’s staging of the show’s 1962 version, energetically directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, includes a song list jam-packed with Porter standards and a strong cast to make those numbers soar. Though the book’s greatest strength may be its role as a vehicle for the tunes, it does offer a keen depiction of an America where gangsters are worshipped like celebrities and evangelism is akin to show business. Not much has changed on that score. . . Between the unlikely pairings and the trashy fun, this low comedy classic is bound to leave you with a smile on your face.” – Andrea Torrence, St. Louis Theatre Snob

“Directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor make sure that everyone has a good time in this very broad comedy whose social implications – lionizing people who are criminals, religious hypocrisy – are easily relatable in today’s world. . . it surely is a great deal of fun, especially if you have the least bit of romantic in you.” – Ann Pollock, St. Louis Eats and Drinks

“They're doing Anything Goes? Really? How can they get an ocean liner and those big dance numbers on that little stage? Well, somehow New Line Theatre's Scott Miller and his team have done it, and done it superlatively well. . . Anything Goes is a triumph!” – Steve Callahan, KDHX

Anything Goes is Anything Goes no matter who produces it, right? Well, maybe not. New Line Theatre, known for its productions of edgier and lesser known shows, has taken this classic, 'fun' show and given it a presentation that’s in several ways different than what’s come to be expected as usual. There’s an emphasis on satire and less of an emphasis on dance than other productions I’ve seen, but still, it’s Anything Goes, and the overall effect is energetic, smart, and very very funny. . . Here at New Line, what we get to see is a sharp, witty, tuneful, and well-cast production that’s a delight from start to finish. . . . This is a slightly different Anything Goes than you may be used to, but that’s a good thing. It’s a fresh look at an older show, with a bright, memorable score of hits by a legendary composer, as well as delightful moments of broad comedy and some pointed satirical touches. And the cast is great, as well. It might not be the type of show one might expect from New Line, but the level of excellence is certainly on par with New Line’s best. It’s refreshing, bold, and lots of fun.” – Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts

“The New Line production exhibits the insight into the text and the context of the show that is par for the course when this company presents a classic. Directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor have cultivated a performance style that is well-suited for a show that originated in the 1930s.” – Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle

“The good news: this show holds up reasonably well, thanks to smart, funny cast members who do well with comedy and singing; and thanks to those towering, songs from my grandfather's age. But those songs, by Cole Porter, speak a streamlined, universal language of love. And that makes this 1962 version of Anything Goes a huge departure from what we've come to expect from the New Line Theatre in the past: a great company that readily supplies a stunning 'deep dive' into rich, complex character; and the search for meaning in a world gone dangerously wrong. Even so, this famed musical is still an interesting bit of dash, and in some ways actually does fit the profile of this excellent local company, at The Marcelle Theatre. . . It's a show full of schemers and marks, so conceptually, it measures up nicely to past New Line shows like The Sweet Smell of Success, and Jerry Springer the Opera...” – Richard Green, TalkinBroadway

Why is "the bad boy of musical theatre" producing the 1934 musical comedy Anything Goes? “What are they gonna do to it?”

That's what I keep hearing.

Well, we're not doing anything to it, other than what we always do, take the show back to its roots, back to its creators' original intentions, to let it be again the pointed, adult satire it once was.

After all, could a show title ever describe our company better?

In 2006 I was writing a musical theatre history book, Strike Up the Band, and as I wrote about Anything Goes, I realized things I had never thought about before. Maybe it was because when I first got to know the show, I hadn't yet developed analytical skills, so I hadn't really looked beyond the surface. But writing about the show, I realized there are two central themes running through the story, two delicious pieces of social satire that are just as relevant today as they were in 1934.

We still turn religion into show business – and we've gotten so much better at it! And we still turn criminals into celebrities.

Anything Goes is totally a New Line show.

I’ve learned so much about this show. I learned that Reno was based on two real-life people, the infamous speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan (also a model for Velma Kelly in Chicago), and to a lesser extent, the first superstar evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson.

I learned from an actor who was playing Moonface and had done lots of research on the show, that Victor Moore originally played Mooney very mousy, jittery, with a high, nasally voice, and none of the Brooklyn accent we're used to from more recent productions. The joke is that he’s the opposite of every 1930s gangster cliché.

Also, it's important that Sir Evelyn is not gay, which is the usual default for unimaginative actors. Suggesting he's gay short-circuits a big part of the intricate plot. It's much funnier if he's obviously straight – and terribly goofy-charming. After all, we have to believe that hard-boiled Reno falls for him. (It occurs to me that Reno and Evelyn are sort of Harold Hill and Marian, but with the genders reversed...)

As relevant and as wickedly funny as ever, Anything Goes describes 2018 as much as 1934. Without changing much at all (other than the size of the cast), we can reveal things about this show that people don't usually see; and this show can reveal truths about our world today. All we have to do is trust this material and follow it wherever it takes us. This time it’s taken us on a hell of a crazy ride!