" /> Review: Love the song and dance in 'Anything Goes,' but not much else » Marco Eagle

Review: Love the song and dance in 'Anything Goes,' but not much else

There's nothing like a Cole Porter song — romantic melodies with witty word play that's delightful and "delovely," as Porter himself would say.

And "Anything Goes," playing at the Naples Dinner Theatre through March 6, has almost a score of them in its score.

That's the good news.

The bad news is, it also, unfortunately, has dreadful dialogue, jokes that fall flat and some of the worst ethnic stereotyping on stage today.

You have to sit through all that to get to the fun parts — the numbers where the ensemble goes all-out in an absolute orgy of tap-dancing, or any time Jenn Furman sings. (Furman plays Reno Sweeney, the sultry, smart-talking nightclub singer/ex-evangelist who's larger than life in the show.)

But something was misfiring Saturday night, and I couldn't tell if it was the script itself or the actors' inability to pull off the old humor and dialogue. The musical is 71 years old, and perhaps some of the humor just doesn't translate.


"Anything Goes"

When: Tuesday through Sunday evenings, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, through March 6

Where: Naples Dinner Theatre, 1025 Piper Blvd.

Cost: Buffet and matinee, $40, and evenings, $47.50

Information: 514-7827

The show's ensemble numbers are wonderful, but it's Furman who saves the show. When she plants her hands on her hips and rolls her shoulders suggestively, then opens her mouth to sing, watch out! She can belt out a song as well as Ethel Merman, who originated the role in 1934 and then played it in the film version two years later.

Furman does the first song, "I Get a Kick Out of You," but the theater's small band was so amplified it was abrasive. Furman's got a great set of pipes, but even she seemed to be fighting to be heard Saturday night.

Other high points were Kate Phillips, who was a standout as Erma, a gangster's moll with an insatiable appetite for sailors; Booth Daniels as Moonface Martin, a wise-cracking wiseguy poorly disguised in priest's garb who provided most of the evening's laughs; and Dominic Quin-Harkin, who was charming as Evelyn, a clueless English lord who can't quite get the hang of our strange American expressions of speech.

The dinner theater went all out with its set design (by Jason Bolen). The onstage turntable and moving stage were incorporated very creatively into the action.

But I found myself bored, and, at times, cringing. In addition to the overly loud band, a door fell off its hinges in the first act, and the stage's turntable seemed to stall at one point. It had to rotated manually.

But then, the cast would gather on-stage and tap-dance en masse in numbers such as "Heaven Hop" or "Anything Goes," or Furman would belt out a song like "You're the Top" with Billy (Marc Ginsburg), or she'd casually throw out witty repartee like a pro, with a marvelous gleam in her eye.

And I'd be happy.

But then — well, you get the idea.

The highs were fabulous, but the lows were just as extreme.

It made for a very schizophrenic evening.

The dance numbers, choreographed by Chris Noffke, were energetic and invigorating. And it's so good to see Furman back on stage in Naples, though talent like hers deserves a much larger audience.

The music was so enjoyable, I wouldn't mind going back to hear it again. If only there was some way to delete or fast-forward the rest of it.

Nancy Stetson can be reached at

© 2005 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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