Opera House Theatre Company

Theatre Review – Entertaining “Anything Goes” is all About the Music

Jason Aycock (from left), Heather Setzler and Dan Morris star in the production of "Anything Goes" by the Opera House Theatre Company.

 

By John Staton
John.Staton@StarNewsOnline.com

Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 9:36 a.m.
 
Cole Porter’s musical “Anything Goes” has been around for 75 years. Still, the lyrics to the title tune could easily be speaking to contemporary times: “In olden days a glimpse of stocking/ Was looked on as something shocking/ But now, God knows/ Anything goes.”
 So true, although it’d be hard to say that modern folks are any loonier than the characters depicted in this farce, which is being staged appealingly at Thalian Hall by Opera House Theatre Co. under the direction of Ron Chisholm. Still, even if exaggerated, the characters are recognizable – the fun-loving but sensitive regular guy, the young girl who’s not sure which of two guys she should marry, the intimidating but no-so-bright thug, the pompous ass. Even such minor characters as the officious, glad-handing ship’s captain (played entertainingly by John “Perk” Perkinson) ring true.

 Of course, we probably wouldn’t care much about “Anything Goes” in 2010 if the songs hadn’t been written by the great Cole Porter. And it’s ultimately the songs, from the smooth and velvety melody of “It’s Delovley” to Kendra Goehring-Garrett’s soulful belting of the title tune, that we take away. It’s certainly not the silly and somewhat formulaic story line, even if it does make some satiric social commentary.

 To dispatch with that story line before we get into the good stuff: An ocean liner is making the Atlantic crossing from New York to London, quite an event in its day, but one that lacks cache to the snobby Mrs. Harcourt (Michelle Reiff, perfect). She expects to see some celebrities, and not just the nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Goehring-Garrett), whom she dismisses as merely “notorious.” Mrs. Harcourt’s with her daughter, the sweet if not entirely innocent Hope, played with a sort of endearing blandness by Dorothy Cowan. Hope is engaged to the insufferable British fancy-pants Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Zack Simcoe), who even sniffs at an illuminated moon. (“It’s all right, for what it is”).

 But things are about to get more interesting. Billy Crocker (Jason Aycock, likable and steady, as always) is there to see off his boss, the rich, feckless Elisha J. Whitney (Eric Paisley, his comic timing making him a well-deserved crowd fave). Billy had an enchanted evening some weeks back with Hope, so when he runs into her again he decides to stay on the boat despite his lack of ticket or passport, not to mention her impending nuptials.

 Also illicitly on board are the gangster Moonface Martin (Dan Morris) and his loud but resourceful moll, Bonnie (Heather Setzler). Over the course of the evening, as Billy tries to hide from/blend in with the ship’s crew he gets mixed up with the gangsters and is later mistaken for their leader, while Reno develops a thing for the uppity Evelyn.

 In the style of the day, the songs are only very loosely tied to the story line, but that helps keep things light. One of the big production numbers, “The Heaven Hop,” led by a wonderfully wacked-out Setzler and backed by Reno’s “Angels,” who ain’t exactly purity and light, is a feather-light confection of fun. Another big number, the catchy “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” is rousing and riveting, and speaks more directly to the show’s underlying theme of saints behaving like sinners and vice versa.

 Given the religious undertones, which the show plays for laughs while holding up piety for the hypocrisy it often is, it’s instructive that the Act Two-opening “Public Enemy Number One” is done gospel-style. When the passengers and crew think Billy is a gangster named Snake Eyes Johnson (Snake Eyes Johnson!) it’s he whom they really worship.

 Elsewhere, Porter, as he’s wont to do, jabs a thumb in the eye of conventionality with mischievous odes to breaking the rules, including “Let’s Step Out” (led, once again, by the effervescent Setzler) and “Let’s Misbehave,” delivered duet-style by Goehring-Garrett and Simcoe. And while they perform well individually and make a good comic team, with Goehring-Garrett playing Reno as a smoldering if somewhat nurturing sexpot, and Simcoe going ever-so-slightly over the top as the clueless English Evelyn, it would’ve been nice to see a bit more romantic chemistry (admittedly hard to conjure with Evelyn written as such a nincompoop).

 Likewise, Aycock and Cowan don’t exactly make sparks fly either, even as they sing well individually. But it’s probably tough to get things going with another actress when your fiancée is right there with you on stage. (As announced in the program, Aycock and Setzler are engaged.)

 Still, “Anything Goes” is rich enough in fine performances, legitimate laughs (much of the humor is corny, but a couple of moments are truly funny) and great songs that the romantic shortcomings don’t matter much. Morris in particular is a blast to watch as the meat-headed Moonface, and he adds some counter-intuitive panache to his big song, “Be Like the Bluebird” (make that “blue-boid”). Leading a mostly under-whelming chorus is the extraordinary Keith Welborn, adding humor to a couple of small roles and lending his lanky physicality to a number of dance sequences. (Chisholm choreographs as well, and while there’s an occasional energy to the dance numbers, they aren’t quite out of this world.)

 Goehring-Garrett has a nice duet with Aycock in the song of superlatives “You’re the Top,” but she really nails her two big tunes, letting her extraordinary voice soar in the moody “I Get a Kick Out of You” and belting out “Anything Goes” with a controlled, emotional abandon.

 It’s impossible to kill these songs, but musical director Lorene Walsh’s well-led band can sound a bit thin at times and could probably use a few more members (not likely in this economy). Likewise, The Scenic Asylum’s set is so basic as to be practically minimalist, another outcome that likely stems from a budget this side of blockbuster.

 But no matter. For Chisholm and Opera House to come as close as they do to the glamour depicted in “Anything Goes” is an achievement in itself, not to mention that the performers generally capture the decadent, fun-loving spirit of the material.

 It might not be 1935 anymore. But watching this show makes one occasionally wish (aside, perhaps, from some unfortunate Chinese stereotypes) that it still was.

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By John Staton
John.Staton@StarNewsOnline.com
Published: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:09 a.m

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It’s possible to do the right thing by accident.In “The Music Man,” that’s pretty much what traveling salesman Harold Hill does until, at long last, he finally does the right thing on purpose.

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Of course, Opera House Theatre Co.’s entertaining and moving production of the 1950s Meredith Willson classic is no accident. It’s just that director Suellen Yates and company’s earnest efforts make the proceedings appear…READ MORE HERE

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Theater review – Fine ‘Fiddler’ lives up to its ‘Tradition’

Photo by Paul Stephen

By John Staton
John.Staton@StarNewsOnline.com

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Review: 3 stars (out of four)
When: 8 p.m. June 18-19 and 25-26, 3 p.m. June 20 and 27
Where: Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., downtown Wilmington
Tickets: $23-25
Details: 632-2285 or www.ThalianHall.org

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These days, it seems like our culture changes traditions every few weeks. That’s just the fast-paced world we live in. One hundred years ago, however, change was much slower to happen and people were far more resistant to it, and that’s the world captured in Opera House Theatre Co.’s funny, often moving and occasionally problematic production of musical theater classic “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“Love, it’s the new …READ MORE

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Theater review – ‘Guys Named Moe’ make audience participation fun

Keith Welborn (from left), Colby Lewis, Tré Cotten, Tracy Byrd and Terrill Williams star in 'Five Guys Named Moe.'

By John Staton
John.Staton@StarNewsOnline.com

As an audience member, I’m not the biggest fan of audience participation. I don’t want to get drug up on stage, be pressured to sing along or be told to throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care.

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Which makes my positive feelings for Opera House Theatre Co.’s excellent, entertainment-packed production of “Five Guys Named Moe” that much harder to reconcile with my own basic personality. “Five Guys” is, simply put, a great show. READ MORE HERE

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Theatre Review: Look Out, Sister! Opera House Theatre Company presents ‘Five Guys Names Moe’

By: MJ Pendleton – May 4th, 2010
FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE
Scottish Rite Temple May 7th-9th, 8pm Sunday matinees, 3pm Tickets: $18-$20 • (910) 343-3664

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F“Five Guys Named Moe” is simply spectaculaR! Director Ray Kennedy conducted the orchestra, played the piano, and choreographed the production assisted by Tracy Byrd—and he did it all with astonishing brilliance. This show is so professional it might as well be on Broadway. Kennedy cast the show perfectly; the five Moes are incredibly adorable. Not only are they beautiful, sexy and sensational, they are drop-dead talented.

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The women in the audience were literally begging to be brought onstage, which, by the way, is part of the production. Since there are no females in the cast, they have to be recruited from the audience, and songs like “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie” and “Look Out, Sister” entirely depend on audience participation. On Friday night the audience was game—those Moes are difficult to resist! They are so damn cute. These five guys blast off the stage—they can act, sing, dance—they are really all that.

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When they put on tap shoes to dance and… READ THE REST HERE

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Theater Review: Sisters Acting Up:Opera House Theatre Company presents ‘Nunsense’

Denise S. Bass as the hilarious Sister Amnesia in Nunsense

By: MJ Pendleton – February 23rd, 2010

NUNSENSE
Scottish Rite Temple • 1415 S. 17th St.
February 26th-28th
Tickets: $20 • (910) 343-3664

The magic in Opera House Theatre Company’s latest show, “Nunsense,” is in the casting, so director Sue Ellen Yates deserves a lot of credit for the standing ovation the musical received on Friday night. Each actor perfectly portrayed and never for a moment stepped out of character. In keeping with the setting of a fund-raiser, held in a Catholic school theater, Kendra Goehring-Garrett (Sister Mary Leo) and Joy Gregory (Sister Mary Hubert) glided serenely through the audience with greetings, smiles, and blessings before the show. The show itself had hilarious stops…READ MORE

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Theater review – Wilmington ‘Nunsense’ transcends puns

"Nunsense" is the latest show from Opera House Theatre Company. Front row, Left to right- Denise S. Bass, Michelle Reiff and Lorene Walsh.

By Catherine Bayley
StarNews Correspondent

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 10:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 10:07 a.m.

A group of nuns have come to town kickin’ it old skool, and that’s not a reference to corporal punishment. With references to Mary Pickford, Carmen Miranda and Mary Hartman, the 1985 musical “Nunsense” can’t reach much further back for its punch lines. That said, Opera House Theatre Company’s production of this puntastic show manages to transcend the cornball humor and elicit …READ MORE

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Tickets for Nunsense and Five Guys Named Moe are on sale now!

ickets for Nunsense and Five Guys Named Moe are on sale now!

Tickets for Nunsense and Five Guys Named Moe are on sale now at the Center Box office, located in the lobby of Thalian Hall and can be ordered by phone (910) 632-2285 and on the internet – thalianhall.org

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Opera House Theatre Company Announces Auditions for the 2010 Season

Opera House Theatre Company announces auditions for the 2010 Season. 

Opera House Theatre Company announces auditions for the 2010 Season

Auditions on SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 2010, will be for the productions of Five Guys Named Moe, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Anything Goes, and The Secret Garden.  Auditions for children 13 and younger will be from 9:00 am until 11:00 am, and auditions for adults and teens over 13 will begin at 11:00 am.

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Auditions will be held at the Lucile Shuffler Center, 2011 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington, NC.  For auditions, bring a prepared song and sheet music (an accompanist will be provided).  Also come prepared to dance.  Roles in all five shows are available for men and women in a wide range of ages; there are multiple roles available for children in Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, and The Secret Garden.

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For more information, call the Opera House Office – (910) 762-4234.  Production information is listed below.

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Five Guys Named Moe
Directed and Choreographed by Ray Kennedy
Performance Dates: Wednesday, April 28 – Sunday, May 2 &   Friday, May 7 – Sunday, May 9
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Fiddler on the Roof
Directed and Choreographed by Ray Kennedy
Performance Dates: Wednesday, June 9 – Sunday, June 13
   Friday, June 18 – Sunday, June 20
   Friday, June 25 – Sunday, June 27
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The Music Man
Directed and Choreographed by Ray Kennedy
Performance Dates: Wednesday, July 7 – Sunday, July 11
   Friday, July 16 – Sunday, July 18
   Friday, July 23 – Sunday, July 25
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Anything Goes
Directed and Choreographed by Ray Kennedy
Performance Dates: Wednesday, August 4 – Sunday, August 8
   Friday, August 13 – Sunday, August 15
   Friday, August 20 – Sunday, August 22
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The Secret Garden
Directed by Lou Criscuolo
Performance Dates: Wednesday, September 1 – Sunday, September 5
   Friday, September 10 – Sunday, September 12
   Schedule Change:  Please note that we are running The Secret Garden for two weeks instead of the three we originally announced.  Due to scheduling issues at Thalian Hall, we were not able to book the third weekend.  Thanks for understanding.

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Opera House Theatre Company 25th Anniversary Season 2010

 
Opera House Theatre Company

Opera House Theatre Company

25th Anniversary Season

2010 ORDER FORM

 

The first two shows will be performed at the Scottish Rite Temple, 1415 South 17th Street.

 
Nunsense

.Nunsense Auditions on SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2010, at 11:00 am

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Dan Goggin
Wednesday, February 17 – Sunday, February 21
Friday, February 26 – Sunday, February 28
The Little Sisters of Hoboken have been struck by tragedy – 52 of the sisters have succumbed to botulism after eating vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia, Child of God.  Even worse, the nunnery’s coffers lack the funds to pay for a decent burial for all of the sisters, leaving four of them in cold storage.  To raise the money, the remaining “Little Hobos” have decided to parade their talents in a variety show – an outrageously wacky show packed with music, dancing, jokes, and nun-puns.  This night of inspired madness is quick-paced, raucous, touching, and totally wonderful.  Winner of four Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Off-Broadway Musical, Nunsense has become a must-see international phenomenon, proving conclusively that nun rhymes with fun!

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Five Guys Named Moe

Five Guys Named MoeBook by Clarke Peters
Music and Lyrics by Louis Jordan
Wednesday, April 28 – Sunday, May 2
Friday, May 7 – Sunday, May 9
His woman left him, he’s broke, and it’s almost 5 o’clock in the morning; Nomax slumps in his chair, drowning his misery.  Suddenly, five hipsters appear – Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, Little Moe, and No Moe – to deliver the lessons Nomax needs, lessons in the mysteries of life and love.  For the next two hours, they cajole, wheedle, comfort, and jazz him – and delight the audience – with the classic songs of Louis Jordan, the King of the Jukebox.  Featuring 20 of his greatest up-tempo, sing-along musical sensations, including “Saturday Night Fish Fry”, “Let the Good Times Roll”, “Caldonia”, “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”, and “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?”, Five Guys Named Moe is guaranteed to lift your spirits and leave you dancing in the aisles!
 
The rest of the shows will be performed on the Main Stage of Thalian Hall.

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Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the RoofBook by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Based on Sholom Aleichem’s stories by special permission of Arnold Perl
Wednesday, June 9 – Sunday, June 13
Friday, June 18 – Sunday, June 20
Friday, June 25 – Sunday, June 27
In the little village of Anatevka, Tevye, a poor dairyman, is searching for appropriate husbands for his three eldest daughters.  Old World ways collide with modernity as the daughters reject their father’s wishes and marry the men they love, each daughter’s choice moving her further away from the customs of her faith.  A tale of love and laughter, devotion and defiance, tradition and change, Fiddler on the Roof is one of Broadway’s greatest musicals of all time.  This was the first musical Opera House produced, and we are excited to bring it back for the first time in 25 years!

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The Music Man

The Music Man
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Meredith Wilson
Based on a story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey
Wednesday, July 7 – Sunday, July 11
Friday, July 16 – Sunday, July 18
Friday, July 23 – Sunday, July 25
Fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill has hit River City, Iowa looking to con the townspeople into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band he vows to organize – despite the fact he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef.  Instead he surprises himself and everyone else by coloring the town with openhearted possibility, and love makes River City the end of the line for him.  Meredith Wilson’s marvelous confection of Midwestern corn and Broadway hot diggety doggedness is sure to entertain, delight, and captivate the entire family.  The bouncy, joyous score is full of showstoppers like “Seventy-Six Trombones”, “Marian the Librarian”, “Pick a Little, Talk a Little”, and “Trouble”.  Don’t miss The Music Man, the happiest musical in America!
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Anything Goes

anything_goes
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Original Book by P. G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Linsay & Russel Crouse
New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman
Originally produced by Lincoln Center Theatre, New York
Wednesday, August 4 – Sunday, August 8
Friday, August 13 – Sunday, August 15
Friday, August 20 – Sunday, August 22
Welcome aboard the S.S. American for a gloriously funny screwball comedy where anything goes!  The zany passenger list includes disguised gangsters, tap-dancing sailors, high-kicking chorus girls, mismatched lovers, and women who could have slunk straight off the pages of Vogue in the 30s.  The tune-filled, dance-peppered Cole Porter score is a bubbly delight of songs you love – “I Get a Kick out of You”, “It’s De-Lovely”, “All Through the Night”, “You’re the Top”, “Blow, Gabriel, Blow”, “Buddie Beware”, “Easy to Love”, and of course the title song.  This wacky tale of mistaken identities on the high seas is full of raucous frivolity and is as snappy, effervescent, and fizzy as a bottle of champagne.  Bon voyage!

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon
Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wednesday, September 1 – Sunday, September 5
Friday, September 10 – Sunday, September 12
Schedule Change:  Please note that we are running The Secret Garden for two weeks instead of the three we originally announced.  Due to scheduling issues at Thalian Hall, we were not able to book the third weekend.  Thanks for understanding.

After the death of her parents in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox is sent to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald.  Still lost in mourning his wife, Lily, after ten years, Archibald has little interest in his new charge.  Lonely and bored, Mary sets about discovering the secrets of the house, from the walled and locked garden to the crying that haunts the manor late at night.  When spring comes again, the garden is brought back to life – and so are those who encounter it.  The Secret Garden will enchant audiences with its cherished story told anew in an unforgettable musical all about the power of love and the miracle of rebirth.
 
 
All performances begin at 8:00 pm EXCEPT for ALL SUNDAY PERFORMANCES,
which are matinees and begin at 3:00 pm.

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