A View from the Cliff: Heights Players’ “Anything Goes”

Dazzling costumes, stirring choreography and excellent vocalists revitalize the 1930s Cole Porter favorite, “Anything Goes.” The Heights Players, continuing their diamond anniversary season, look fondly at the past while still acknowledging modern attitudes.

The brassy starring role, Reno Sweeney, was once owned by Broadway’s Grand Dame Ethel Merman. At Saturday evening’s show, Karen Mascolo does Merman’s memory proud with her own strong, swaggering delivery.

Director/choreographer Michael Kidney’s dozens of dancers deliver intricate steps and smiles despite a relatively small stage. All, in their tap shoes, pound the planks with wonderful energy. In “Blow Gabriel Blow” their exuberance is irresistible. More unforgettable music for solos, duets and the entire company include “Anything Goes,” “It’s Delovely,” “Friendship,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Let’s Misbehave” and “You’re the Top.”

Billy Crocker (Brian E. Levario) has ample opportunity to break the rules while he tries to outsmart Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Michael Patrick Damato). Both are romantically involved with beautiful Hope Harcourt (Devon Chandler) on the cruise from New York to London. As they parry each other’s advances, the audience enjoys plenty of double-edged wisecracks and great music. Will gold digging Mrs. Harcourt (Erin S. Leddy) and Billy’s nearsighted boss Elisha J. Whitney (Tony Artiga) become collateral damage or inadvertent winners in this battle for love?

Watch out for Public Enemy #13 aka Moonface Martin (Kevin McAuley). He caricatures a famous comedian’s mannerisms and vocal inflections while creating clever comical chaos. His voluptuous partner in crime is Bonnie Letour (Hilary Goldman). His unwitting sidekicks include two card-playing converts Ching and Ling (Atsushi Eda and Lina Lee).

Supporting players include Reno’s devilish angels Chastity (Mariela Flor Olivo), Virtue (Allison St. Rock), Purity (Marissa Maffiolini) and Charity (Masumi Iwai). They are very easy on the eyes and ears as they sing, dance and sway all evening. The ship’s crew and passengers never falter in their harmonies, complex tap dancing and warm, onstage smiles.

Kudos as well to Music Director Evan Alparone, Lighting Designer Leo J. Contrino and Production Stage Manager Jill Lewis-Kelly. Credits for sets (Gary VanderPutten and Paul Keim) and costumes (Scotty Wiggins and Malary Nicoletti) are just a short list of the many behind-the-scenes experts.

For information on this and future shows, call 718-237-2752 or surf to info@heightsplayers.org.

As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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