El Dorado Musical Theatre is charting new waters with their latest endeavor. “Anything Goes” is a classic Broadway show, complete with Cole Porter songs and quirky characters, all set aboard an ocean liner in the pre-World War II era. The original musical opened on Broadway in 1934 and has been revived many times. The local musical theater group performed the show back in 2005 but has come a long way since then.
For starters, they’ve now dropped anchor at Three Stages, the region’s new state-of-the-art visual and performing arts center located at Folsom Lake College. They are also completing their first decade of putting on quality musicals. The cast and crew also accomplished something with this show they’ve never done before – pulling it together in such a short time frame. According to EDMT Executive Director Wade Sherman, it was all hands on deck. “Given the availability of the venue,” he said, “this was the shortest time we’ve had to stage a production from start to finish.” Producer Alicia Soto said they started rehearsals March 7, just six days after call-backs.
None of this affected the performances, set design or costumes. The two-story set, complete with a ship’s smokestack, served well as the deck of the ocean liner. The songs are catchy (“You’re the Top,” “It’s Delovely,” “Anything Goes” and “Let’s Misbehave”) and the acting superb. The story centers around Billy Crocker (Chris Meissner) and Hope Harcourt (Clara Regula) in a strange love square (with four characters). See, Hope is engaged to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Andrew Wilson), but Crocker has been carrying a torch for the fetching Hope since they shared time together three months earlier. Enter Reno Sweeney (Katherine Sorgea), a night club performer who falls for the foppish Sir Evelyn. Things get crazier from there with mistaken identities, an FBI manhunt and an old-fashioned Christian revival with a mock-reverend who is really wanted outlaw Moonface Martin (Stefan Sorgea). We last saw Stefan as the father in “Hairspray,” by the way, and his knack for physical comedy also serves him well in his current role. Meissner, who we last saw on the boards as Corny Collins in “Hairspray,” does a terrific turn as love-struck Billy. His dancing and vocal skills are put to the test, but he sails through with flying colors. Clara Regula, as undecided Hope, is also superb. Her velvety voice and acting make her a natural choice for the role. The breakout performance of the show is by far the one delivered by Katherine Sorgea as brash Reno Sweeney. The 20-year-old Folsom Lake College student infuses the role with energy and excitement.
My 11-year-old daughter Parker said Reno sparkled and her character was the one that stood out. “She’s the one I remembered the most,” Parker said. Cian, my 12-year-old son, also tagged Reno as his favorite. “I like her because she was awesome,” he said. “She had a great character.” Another standout is Krista Mackin as Bonnie. She leads a few rousing numbers (such as “Heaven Hop”) and provides some great comic relief. Don’t miss this one. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars