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Sail away from your troubles with PEMCo’s ‘Anything Goes’

| Friday, March 31, 2023

Maria Gorecki

If you’re looking for a night filled with catchy music, impressive tap dancing and lots of laughs to distract you from midterms, then look no further! Pasquerilla East Musical Company’s (PEMCo) spring musical is finally hitting the Washington Hall Main Stage this weekend.

Imagine: A Wall Street broker (Christian Farls) and his alcoholic boss (Josh Vo), an heiress (Elizabeth Maroshick) and her fiance (Andrew Purring), a mobster (Bryce Bustamante), his girlfriend (Abby Urban) and a nightclub singer (Danielle Gerardi) walk onto an ocean liner to London … 

And, no, this isn’t “Triangle of Sadness.” 

It’s “Anything Goes,” a 1934 musical that follows the unlikely interactions between New York’s finest and trashiest on board the SS American. The Wall Street broker, Billy Crocker, stows away to woo the beautiful and wealthy Hope Harcourt and, in the process, accidentally helps a mobster — Moonface Martin a.k.a. Public Enemy No. 13 — escape the law. The catch is: Hope is engaged to British royalty, the nightclub singer is hopelessly in love with Billy and the mobster might be nicer than you think. 

When the spotlight centers on the sultry nightclub singer Reno Sweeney for the ensemble’s performance of the show-stopping “Anything Goes,” just know you’re in for a treat. The choreographers — Christina Sayut, Theresa Thomas, Libby White and Audrey Boennighausen — totally popped off. Some of the best tap dancing I’ve ever seen was executed in the song’s five-minute run-time. I was awestruck, to say the least.

Reno is our guide to life on the SS American, and with Gerardi’s commanding stage presence and wonderful voice, you’re in good hands. The set is beautifully designed with an upper level which creates endless opportunities for singing and dancing on the SS American. Plus, the costuming team did a phenomenal job with everybody’s get-ups, especially considering the many different disguises of Mr. Moonface Martin and Billy Crocker. It was clear there was a cohesive aesthetic vision for the stage at every point of “Anything Goes,” and it may or may not have come from the Cape Cod-core Pinterest board of my dreams.

The blossoming love between Billy and Hope is fairly innocent, grounding the musical’s emotional center in lighthearted puppy love. Farls and Maroshick make you go “aww” and put your hands over your heart in “Easy to Love” and duet “It’s De-Lovely.”

And while I’m a total sucker for romance, I truly think the musical’s strength lies in how downright hilarious it is. The unlikely alliance between second-rate gangster Moonface Martin, Billy and Reno (“Friendship”) was the perfect combination of high- and low-brow characters. The physical gags were hilarious. Watch out for Moonface’s gun and Cheeky, the dog on board. (The two aren’t correlated, thank God.) 

I cannot emphasize enough how fun it was watching Bustamante put on a New York mobster accent a la “The Sopranos” as Moonface Martin (“Be Like the Blue Bird”). Humor comes out in every aspect of the musical. Billy’s boss has a weirdly obsessive loyalty to Yale and killer comedic timing. Hope’s fiance never quite understands American slang. Even the captain acts like a silly goose. Spit (Trey Paine) and Dippy (Rylan Chromy) were also hilarious and tasteful revisions of the original musical. I’m still considering their lobsters. 

“Anything Goes” is PEMCo at its best, and that isn’t to disparage their previous performances. They always put on a good show, but “Anything Goes” is exactly the kind of light-hearted musical that plays to the hilarious cast’s comedic strengths. It was the laugh I needed, and that you might need too. 

Sail away from your troubles and see some antics on the Atlantic Ocean with PEMCo’s “Anything Goes.” Attending the show in Washington Hall Main Stage at 7 p.m. tonight or tomorrow helps celebrate the hard work of PEMCo’s cast and crew. Tickets are available at the LaFun Box Office.

Musical: “Anything Goes”

Director: Christina Sayut

Produced by: Pasquerilla East Musical Company

Starring: Danielle Gerardi and Christian Farls

Where: Washington Hall Main Stage

When: March 30 to April 1 at 7 p.m.

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About Claire Lyons

Claire is the current Viewpoint Editor for The Observer. She is a rising senior from Fort Worth, TX with majors in Honors English and political science. She is interested in fostering free speech on campus, the latest non-fiction essay collections and Sufjan Stevens.

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