If ever there was an evergreen musical with just about everything, it just might be Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” now playing through Sept. 25 at Diamond Head Theatre.
- Tap dancing , Act 1: You could leave at intermission, when the title tune gets a spirited boost, as energetic tappers click their shoes and sing and dance their hearts out, as if this was the finale. You’d get your money’s worth and feel fulfilled.
- Tap-dancing, Act 2: The closing tapper, which brings down the curtain, also is rich with voices and shoes tapping, and yep, might trigger your animated trek to your car. Disclosure: there’s another awesome show-stopper (won’t reveal it) when you’ll momentarily feel like you’re seeing “42nd Street” and “A Chorus Line.”
- Career-best performances, from the romantic leads: Jody Bill, as nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, has the pipes and verve and vocalize with skill, and is a knock-out dancer, as well. Andrew Sakaguchi, as stowaway Billy Crocker, is a triple-threat, singer, actor and dancer with batteries that don’t need recharging. He certainly, and deservedly, carries the flag as an API trouper and a poster boy for blind casting that works.
- The rich and everlasting score by Porter still connects: his words and music are part of the DNA of the Great American Songbook.
- Splendid direction and choreography: John Rampage, who is the unseen skipper of the SS American, the setting for this shipboard, steers through one of his favorite musicals of all time, in what will be the final production in the “old,” soon to be retired Ruger Theatre, which also has been a playhouse earlier known as the Honolulu Community Theatre, and now Diamond Head Theatre; with additional kudos to Caryn Yee, whose tap choreography is a joy to experience (for performers and spectators), with solo, couple, and ensemble units joyfully tapping, tap-tap-tap.
- Glorious, colorful and costumes: Karen G. Wolfe has outdone herself with a mountain of wardrobe styles and hues, brightening the needs of scenes involving a diverse lot, from sailors to captains, from angels to devils, from clerics to whomever. Her creations could proudly fill a boutique.
- Appealing depth in the secondary roles: Mathew Pedersen, as Moonface Martin; Akiko Schick, as Evangeline Harcourt, mother of Christine Kluvo’s Hope Harcourt; Ahnya Chang, as Erma.
- Stage and lighting design: Dawn Oshima’s shipboard set, complete with occasional suites, are inventive yet essential, to address the multi-moods of the time-tested rom-com treasure.
Further, there’s support and efficiency in the other realms of staging a huge musical; like hair and make up by Aiko Schick, and orchestral melodics helmed by Jenny Shiroma, who also is keyboardist, with four colleagues who sound like a band double its size.
Ensemble excellence prevails – the cast of 30 is huge – so their unity and output reflect dedication and generosity, from the show leads to the gallery ensemble folks, who perform with a feeling of genuine team pride. It’s also a thrill to remember young actors making progress and living the joy of theater. I point out the likes off Shane Nishimura, who is part of the ensemble principally as a singing-dancing sailor, but I remember him as a youngster portraying Gavroche in a “Les Miserables” in the past.
Performance schedule: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, at 3 p.m. Saturdays and at 4 p.m. Sundays (no Saturday matinee Sept. 10), through Sept. 25.
Tickets: $25-$35, available at www.diamondheadtheatre.com or (808) 733-0274.
And that’s Show Biz. …