Classic, 'silly' musical 'Anything Goes' to close out ALT's 90th season
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Amarillo Little Theatre hopes to offer a sweet relief with its season-ending musical and, as the title song says, "times have changed."
ALT's production of Anything Goes opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and continues at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. May 11 and 18, 8 p.m. May 12-13 and 19-20, and 2:30 p.m. May 14 and 21 in the ALT Mainstage, 2019 Civic Circle.
It's the company's first revival of the iconic Cole Porter musical in more than a quarter-century.
"In 1990, it was difficult to have tap dancers," director Allen Shankles said. "We didn't have the stable of talent we have now, so it was hit or miss for us."
Now, a 26-person cast — headed by Kristen Loyd as the swanky nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, with Michael Froschheiser and Marley Hoggatt as the lovestruck Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt — will bring back the 1934 musical, complete with tapping sailors, gangsters, showgirls and more.
Shankles and his cast said now's the perfect time to revive the show.
"I think we can look at the news and Facebook today and see tons of discord and people fighting," Hoggatt said. "Being able to come into the theater for a while and feeling a little better about life and love is pretty priceless."
"I mean, lots of people want to come to the theater and let go of their bad feelings and whatever has been troubling them through the week," he said. "This is a show that will help lift your spirits."
In the musical, Reno, a former evangelist turned chanteuse, is crossing the Atlantic on the steamer SS American, as are heiress Hope, her mother (Shannon Mashburn) and her fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Justin Loe). Billy has fallen in love at first sight with Hope and stows away on the ship, while gangster Moonface Martin (Don Shipman) has gone undercover as the ship's chaplain. A case of mistaken identity arises when Billy uses the passport of Snake Eyes Johnson, Public Enemy No. 1, while Reno and Billy conspire to split up Evelyn and Hope.
As Shankles put it: "It's silly as hell, but it's fun."
"It's an escape," Loyd said. "And there's music that's either familiar or feels familiar because it's a time gone by."
Ah yes, the music. The show is chock full of Porter classics, from the title song to "I Get a Kick Out of You" to "You're the Top."
"The music is spectacular, and there's a lot of it in the show," Shankles said.
"I absolutely love the music," Froschheiser said. "It's that traditional music that you want to hum."
At the center of it all is Reno, a character played by the likes of Ethel Merman, Patti LuPone and Sutton Foster.
"Reno really carries the show, so you want somebody audiences are going to want to tune into for two hours," Shankles said. "She's got to be sultry and hard-edged, and she's got to be able to belt, and Kristen is showing that she's a genuine triple threat in this show."
For her part, Loyd said Reno is a "dream role."
"I love her," Loyd said. "She's a sassy, no-nonsense, self-made woman. ... It's a real bucket-list role for me.
"I'm a huge fan of Cole Porter. I'm pretty sure I was born in the wrong era," she continued. "This is a big handful of loves for me."
Tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for seniors and students, and $16 for children Thursdays and Sundays, and $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students, and $18 for children Fridays and Saturdays. Call 806-355-9991.