‘Anything Goes’ opens at Moonlight
By Emily Sorensen
Moonlight Stage Productions is preparing to transport you back to the 1930s with its production of the famous Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes,” running through Sunday, Sept. 8 at Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista.
Taking place almost entirely on a cruise ship traveling from New York to London, “Anything Goes” tells the story of a stowaway named Billy Crocker, played by Jeffrey Scott Parsons, who is in love with an heiress, Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. Assisted by Moonface Martin, played by Barry Pearl, and Reno Sweeney, played by Tracy Lore, Billy works to win Hope’s heart.
“Anything Goes” is the second show director and choreographer Jon Engstrom has done for Moonlight, having previously directed “42nd Street” for Moonlight Stage Productions in 2009. Though he’s never staged a version of “Anything Goes” before, Engstrom was up for the challenge.
Engstrom is working from the 2011 revival, which is also the version currently being performed on Broadway. “It’s been revised and tightened up,” said Engstrom of the changes to the original version. “You can’t get better than Cole Porter music, but there were some problems with the book.” Engstrom said the newly revised version of the book was much better, and made him laugh out loud at his kitchen table when he read it for the first time.
One of the most exciting things about Moonlight’s production of “Anything Goes,” according to Engstrom, is the set. “The creative and technical staff have outdone themselves,” Engstrom said. “It’s a beautiful, substantial set.”
Two, sets, actually: not only does “Anything Goes” feature a three-story cruise ship set, but a replica of the famous St. Regis Hotel bar from New York City as well. “I wanted to replicate that bar,” said Engstrom. The show will begin without a curtain, so the audience can enjoy examining the elaborate bar set. “It’s not something you get bored staring at.”
The three-story ship is perhaps even more impressive. “The technical said this show could play for a year,” said Engstrom. “I was just blown away when I walked in and saw it. My jaw dropped.” The ship set, made of solid steel and wood, is so sturdy that scenes and dancing will be performed on all three levels. “It was brilliantly designed and crafted by Moonlight staff,” said Engstrom, who is so enamored by the set that he is calling around to other directors around the country, seeing if they would like to use the set for their own stagings of “Anything Goes.”
Engstrom also praised his cast. “This is a fabulous cast,” said Engstrom. Despite a short rehearsal schedule for his principal actors, Engstrom said he hasn’t encountered any problems. “I have great principals,” said Engstrom. “I don’t have to spoon-feed them. They know what to do.
“I think people will want to see this more than once,” said Engstrom.
Performance times are Wednesdays – Sundays, with no performances Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Sunday, Sept. 9. Curtain is at 8 p.m., but the gates open at 6:30 p.m. to allow time for picnicking and dining. Non-alcoholic beverages and food may be brought into the amphitheater, and food is also for sale at the Artisan Café.
Tickets for “Anything Goes” are on sale now and range from $15 to $50. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 760-724-2110 or visit moonlightstage.com.
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