Theatre Review: ‘Anything Goes’ at Riverside Center Dinner Theater

The cast of 'Anything Goes' at Riverside Center Dinner Theater.

From May 4th through July 22nd, the glamour of Riverside Center Dinner Theater is doubled in the production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, directed by Justin Amellio and Rollin E. Wehman.

If you were planning on staying home some night and getting your Broadway fix on Netflix when no one else is around to see you watching those old movies (you know who you are), give up the game.  I’ve got a better use for your time.

Glitter, glitz and glamour are all brought to life in this wonderful play by legendary composer and songwriter Cole Porter, whom you may have seen recently portrayed by Kevin Klein in It’s De-Lovely.

The cast of 'Anything Goes' at Riverside Center Dinner Theater.

Anything Goes is set aboard an ocean liner called the S.S. American during the 1930s.  Sailor suits and tap-dancing?  You bet.  A host of colorful characters find themselves aboard trying to find everything from love to notoriety.  There are the lovers, of course: Billy Crocker (Mason Reich), con man who has not been able to shake off Cupid’s arrow, and Hope Harcourt (Brittany Taylor), a good girl who’s just bad enough to find herself in love with the right man and marrying the wrong.  Overbearing Mrs. Harcourt (Anne Lloyd), Hope’s mother, is a piece of work all her own, for she’s brought aboard Hope’s unfathomably unglamorous fiancé, Sir Eeeeevelyn (Robert Beard), a gentleman from England who likes to run around the deck in the most horrible plaid shorts you’ve never wanted to see.

Reno Sweeney, (stage veteran Kathy Halenda), is the element of divine chaos, come to shake everyone up with her irresistible charisma.  A successful evangelist turned beloved showgirl, she has brought her girls along as companions, and Purity, Chastity, Charity and Virtue (Taylor Paige Boyle, Kylie Clark, Sally Roehl and Maggie Wilder), the poor things, are only too happy to make their long trip surrounded by nothing but sailor boys as enjoyable as possible.  But wait, there’s more…the ambitious gangster Moonface Martin (Alex Balian), disguised as a minister and completely in the wrong line of work, is accompanied by his capable accomplice and would-be Reno showgirl, Bonnie (Kimberly F. Knight).  A determined ship’s captain (John Maher), overly responsive sailors (Christopher Hlusko, Jonathan Litalien, Michael R. Colby, Calvin Register, Jr., and a Chinese Bishop with two Chinese converts (Maher, Hlusko and Litalien) round out the wackiness.

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Come see Kathy Halenda play Reno Sweeny in 'Anything Goes!'

From star to ensemble, the whole cast of Anything Goes at the Riverside Center Dinner Theatre is full of spirit and will sweep you off your feet.  (No, really; I took my mother for mother’s day, and she almost got up and danced with them.)  Award-winning actress Halenda brings with her the Manhattan style, draped in glitter sequins and seeming to channel Porter through her beautiful, powerful and warm voice.  Reich is hilarious and even gives Miss Piggy a run for his money as Billy takes on several disguises, but shines especially in his gorgeous ballad, “Easy to Love.”  Knight owns the stage in her powerful rendition of the seductive “Buddie, Beware” number.  Taylor’s duets with Reich are dulcet and lovely, and she is compelling as the sweet but independent Hope.  The Chinese converts are far from forgettable as benign but mysteriously skilled gambling enthusiasts.  Even with a cast of so many already loveable characters and talent, Beard as Sir Evelyn and Balian as Moonface are utterly adorable simply from the pure enjoyment they have in their ridiculous roles.

From star to ensemble, the whole cast of Anything Goes at the Riverside Center Dinner Theatre is full of spirit and will sweep you off your feet.

A clever set by David P. Stock that somehow manages to get changed without you even noticing it adds a powerful touch, as we see the cast frolicking around a giant ship deck of three levels.

Finally, there’s just something about seeing a red velvet curtain falling on a cast of beaming, talented people who have just tap-danced for you in the footlights, that leaves you feeling transported.  Don’t let this show go without you seeing it, and don’t let the family miss out, either.

Anything Goes plays through July 22nd at the Riverside Center Dinner Theater, 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22406. For tickets, call 888-999-8527.

Below is a video promo, produced by Riverside Center Dinner Theater.

About Erica S.

Erica S. has spent a lot of her time looking for ways to combine her loves of the performing arts, literature, and world cultures in both her professional and personal life. She received a B.A. in English from George Mason University in 2002, and went on to study folklore in graduate school, where she discovered professional storytelling. When not working at her day job, she finds opportunities to perform as a storyteller and vocalist. She also sings with a local choir called the Six Degree Singers, and sometimes finds time to read for pleasure and write.