Anything Goes for a night in D.C.

Taruni Addanki & Anika Mereddy, copy editor & business manager

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When The Purple Tide staff first received an email from Arena Stage, asking us if we would be interested in reviewing its newest musical, “Anything Goes,” we were surprised that the marketing team requested the attendance of a couple of student journalists.

But here we are, reflecting on our experience of stepping out of our comfort zone and asking the Chantilly community to do the same: escape the bubble of Northern Virginia for a few hours to enjoy a play that is a journey, a comedy and an eye-opening performance.

“Anything Goes” tells the story of an assistant stockbroker, Billy Crocker, who struggles with the internal conflict of marrying the woman he loves or staying behind and doing what is expected of him, which is selling stocks, benefitting the company and completing whatever tasks his boss orders.

The dilemma is that Hope Harcourt, the woman he loves, comes from a rather wealthy family, and like Crocker, is told to act upon what is expected of her: marry a wealthy man to please her mother. But when a chance arises, Crocker seizes the opportunity to court Hope on a luxurious cruise to England and leaves his duties behind, only to find that she is already engaged to an Englishman, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Along with help from a nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney, and a nefarious conman, known as “Public Enemy #13,” Moonface Martin, Crocker attempts to win over the love of his life, and to finally be happy.  

As numerous conflicts are thrown at the two lovers, a tale of heartache and comedy is displayed through alluring acting, choreography and music.

To say we were blown away by the acting, dancing and singing of these performers is an understatement; everyone truly shined in this production, including the dog, and yes, there was a real dog in the show. As the storyline is mainly comedic, actors and actresses confidently swept their reservations regarding certain jocular actions aside in order to bring their true characters to light.

Soara-Joye Ross, who played Reno Sweeney, stood out for not only her facial expressions, but also for how she poured her soul into her singing. She often stretched out notes during her solos in order to bring more quality to her confident character and had a unique sound compared to the other actors. If you do attend this production, we truly hope you get to enjoy the angelic voice of Ross. Throughout the entire production, Reno Sweeney remains a true and heartwarming character with whom audience members can sympathize.

The main character, Billy Crocker, was played by Corbin Bleu, whom readers might recognize from Disney Channel Original movies like “Jump in” and “High School Musical.” Bleu displays the amount of work he pours into his craft with the constant energy he maintained throughout the nearly three-hour production.

Jimmy Ray Bennett, who played Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, and Lisa Helmi Johanson, who played Hope Harcourt, also had noteworthy moments throughout the production. Both characters were complex yet lighthearted, conflicted between love and duty.

Our favorite side character, however, must be Moonface Martin, who was played by Stephen DeRosa. His character was amusing and interesting, and his performance shined through his acting, making us love the character even more.
The show is running through Dec. 23, and showtimes range from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a run time of approximately two hours and 45 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission in the latter half of the production. Tickets are $115.
Overall, the experience of watching “Anything Goes” will forever stay vivid in our memories as an enjoyable and meaningful musical, one that is worth every penny spent.

Arena Stage
Soara-Joye Ross (Reno Sweeney) and Corbin Bleu (Billy Crocker) perform together in “Anything Goes” at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Arena Stage
“Anything Goes” cast members tap dance during a performance of the title song, “Anything Goes.” A night out at a local theater such as Arena Stage can provide students with a unique experience.

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