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reviewed by Adam Crowe

Before the curtain rose on the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s Season opener, Anything Goes, Artistic Director Michael J. Lasley thanked the Great American Songbook Foundation for their support of the production. It made perfect sense. Anything Goes is Cole Porter’s most popular musical, and no American composer is more deserving of his own chapter in the Great American Songbook than Indiana’a own Cole Porter. First appearing on Broadway in 1934, Anything Goes has been revived and/or re-staged in many well received Broadway productions, not to mention the huge number of times it has been produced in schools and community theaters.

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Kari Baker (right) as Hope Harcourt in a scene from Civic Theatre’s “Anything Goes”

Civic’s production, directed by Lasley and choreographed by Anne Beck, is the version produced on Broadway in 1987. Many of the original 1934 songs are now standards, and this version of the show has the addition of other well known songs like “Friendship“ and “It’s De-Lovely”, which Porter originally wrote for different shows. As a whole, the music is a feast for Cole Porter fans.

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Nathalie Cruz (center) in a scene from Civic Theatre’s “Anything Goes”

As I’d expect, the Civic “polish” is evident. The technical aspects are beautifully designed and executed. The set may be a rental, but the production values are pure Civic. That said, the book for Anything Goes, credited to an amalgam of P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, (with additions by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman) is very much of the last Century. Modern audiences, accustomed to character development in their musicals, might feel a bit let down. Luckily, Porter’s score, and the talented cast’s singing and dancing of it, buoy the proceedings nicely, even in the script’s weaker moments.

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The cast performs one of the many production numbers in Civic Theatre’s “Anything Goes”

Civic has corralled a great group of veterans and newcomers. A particular standout is Susie Harloff, who’s Reno Sweeney is fully alive and constantly compelling. The always eye-catching Nathalie Cruz, in a supporting role, is also delightful. Cruz is Great – more Cruz would be better! As a whole, the cast is strong and enthusiastic. Also as expected, the musical direction of Brett Marty is strong and sure. His orchestra is wonderful. In summary – if you are a Porter lover, or just a fan of big, old-fashioned musicals, then this Anything Goes is for you!

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre is located in the Center for The Performing Arts in Carmel. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website at civictheatre.org or by calling (317) 843-3800. Anything Goes performs Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Performances run through October 27th.

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