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Review: Texas State University’s ‘Anything Goes’

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Texas State University christens its swanky new Performing Arts Center this week with a show that highlights the tremendous talents of its nationally recognized musical theater program.

Playing through April 15, the 1934 Cole Porter classic “Anything Goes,” provides the cast and crew an opportunity to really showcase a range of talents: quieter duets with ballroom dancing, as well as big show-stopping tap numbers that bring the entire, nearly thirty-member cast on stage.

And with the full orchestra pit in the new Patti Strickel Harrison Theater, the sound is absolutely stunning. Not that there was anything wrong with the sound in the university’s Mainstage performance space, but hearing the music unfettered by audio equipment just sounds that much better.

The comic storyline follows ambitious young Billy Crocker (Stephen Brower) as he stows away on an ocean liner bound from New York to London in pursuit of his love interest, Hope Havcowa (Morgan MacInnes). Of course, Hope is already engaged to someone else, and Billy has to don a series of absurd disguises to avoid both his boss and the suspicious crew.

Admittedly, if watching with a critical eye the show feels uncomfortably outdated in its racial stereotypes and gender roles, but “Anything Goes” nevertheless brings together all the charming aspects of musical theater. It’s got great, iconic music from Cole Porter, comically fraught romantic hijinks, and the kind of implausibly neat happy ending that only a last minute telegram can bring to fruition.

As the romantic lead, Brower steals the girl and the show with his nimble dancing and lovely voice. And in her role as the sultry lounge singer Reno Sweeney, Senior BFA student Annie Wallace closes out her career at Texas State and opens the door to what’s sure to be a successful future.

Jimmy Moore is hilariously charming in his role as the foppish Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, and Michael Burrell is equally amusing as the alcoholic day trader Eusha J. Whitney.

The ensemble of sailors and back up singers and supporting roles don’t merely fade into the background of this production. Each of the performers brings their best to the show, and it makes for an all around high quality experience.

“Anything Goes” continues through April 15. www.txstatepresents.com