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LA Theater Review

Anything Goes

Anchors aweigh! Cole Porter's seafaring 1934 tuner remains a staple offering of musical theatre companies. Few vintage musical comedies contain this many solid-gold song classics, boasting such evergreen numbers as "You're the Top," "Blow Gabriel Blow," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and the tap-dance title tune. Using the revised libretto by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman — introduced in the 1987 Broadway revival — director-choreographer Dan Mojica parlays the zany comic shenanigans and dazzling Porter score into top-drawer cotton-candy fare.

Mojica clearly deserves the lion's share of the credit, but there's plenty of praise to go around. In the brassy role of belting evangelist Reno Sweeney, strongly identified with Ethel Merman, Belle Calaway puts her own stamp on the role. There's a bit of Chita Rivera and a touch of Patti LuPone in her take-charge portrayal. She shares showstopping duets with all the key male characters. Kevin Earley has a field day playing love-struck stowaway Billy Crocker. He's an expert farceur, and his magnificent singing voice is wonderfully suited to this score. As Hope, the lady Billy is pursuing, Melissa Fahn likewise displays a deft comic flair. Her angelic voice is at its best when she shares the gorgeous "All Through the Night" with Earley and an ensemble of sailors. The smashing contingent of second-banana troupers includes the hilarious John Massey Jr. as mobster Moonface Martin, disguised as a preacher; the deadpan Allyce Beasley as Hope's gold-digging mother; Lesli Margherita as Erma, a stock bimbo type; Karl Jaecke as a nearsighted tycoon; and Gordon Goodman as Lord Evelyn, Hope's fussbudget fiancé.

Mojica elicits equally polished results from his ensemble of singer-dancers, and music director Diane King Vann seals the deal, leading a vibrant onstage orchestra. The uncredited set provides a classy backdrop for the action, augmented by stellar work from lighting designer John E.D. Bass. Musical Theatre West's blissfully entertaining production offers an invigorating fresh look at one of the most durable properties in the Porter canon.

Presented by Musical Theatre West at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach. Thu.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 & 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. (Also Sun. 7 p.m. Jul. 16.) Jul. 8-23. (562) 856-1999, ext. 4.

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