By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III “The People’s Critic”
[Photo by Spry Art Photography]
It was Thomas Wolfe who famously wrote, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” But I’m thinking that maybe he was wrong, because after two of our nation’s Pandemic Years and assorted family matters that required my presence back in New York, I find myself blessed to finally be back in Texas reviewing a marvelous Class Act Production, as I have been able to so many times since back in the 1990’s. This time around it is the always delightful Cole Porter musical, “ANYTHING GOES,” which I last saw this group perform more than a decade ago back in 2012. It’s still as much fun as ever under the continued guidance of its seemingly ageless Founder/Director, Keith Brumfield. following the show, Mr. Brumfield, along with talented Lighting Designer, Jonathan Shelledy, would graciously give my guest and I a private tour of the mainstage, as well as a backstage tour of their building’s amazingly extensive theatrical spaces including storage space for enormous collections of costumes, props etc., music & rehearsal rooms, meeting rooms, office spaces, dressing rooms, restrooms, and intermission concession areas, all conveniently located at 25275 Budde Rd. in a sprawling commercial park right here in The Woodlands, Texas.
The cute Sailors Quartet (Emanuel Cruz, Colton Frye, Corbin Meredith & Samuel Nash) give us a zany, “They’ll Always Be a Lady Fair,” while swabbing the deck. We get more amusement from the comical pairing of Hope’s often hysterically wailing mother, Evangeline, (Amy Jackson), and the master of facial double-takes, the ship’s Captain (Jack Wheeler). There’s a perky pairing of Reno and gangster, Moonface Martin (Beau Snortland) for the tune, “Friendship,” but the heavy-handed broad comedy here becomes a bit tedious. Relief is quickly on the way, however, as Yarbrough arrives with graceful moves and a lovely soft green gown, to join Billy for the sweet waltz of “It’s De-Lovely.” Then the energetic cast joined Reno for the tap-dancing delight of the title song that would send the audience off to Intermission with smiles on every face.
In Act Two, saucy Reno sashays on stage to liven things up in a sexy, sparkling and ruby sequined gown as she launches into a seductive, “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” She is joined by her equally sexy back-up “Angels,” amusingly named Purity, Chastity, Charity, and Virtue ( Zoe Marlborough, Kenzie Dawn, Angela Pajestka, Blythe Bowman). With flashy red dresses of their own, boy, can these girls dance! With more great choreography, the number explodes across the stage like a rousing church revival meeting. Next, in a gorgeous, flowing coral gown, Hope delivers a stunning, “Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye.” Moonface, the gangster, is captured and thrown into the brig below decks where he wishes he could have his freedom and “Be Like the Bluebird.” Billy follows leading off with a beautiful, “All Through the Night,” that really catches fire when Yarbrough joins in from high atop the ship, with her calming and lovely voice.
The fun continues with some more uproarious comic flair from Mr. Pajestka when Evelyn gives a very funny performance of, “The Gypsy in Me,” featuring hilarious, writhing, and slithering body language that had many in the audience howling with laughter. And there was still one more sensuous number from Erma (Paris Nguyen-Hatsushiba). Wearing polished red silk pajamas, she joined forces with the sailors as she pranced joyfully about, rambunctiously delivering an adorable dance routine. And then, as though we audience members hadn’t already realized this had been a lovely evening of musical theatre, we got one more pleasant reminder with a full cast reprise of the wonderful, “All Through the Night.”
ANYTHING GOES will have final weekend performances this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and this Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm. For tickets and information visit http://www.classactproductions.org
Performances will be at the Class Act Theatre, 25275 Budde Rd. (Suite 27) The Woodlands, TX
The columns of David Dow Bentley III have appeared on Broadway websites, in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.comE-mail may be directed to ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com