SURREY — Times have changed. That’s the opening line from the song “Anything Goes,” the title tune from the popular and enduring musical. We are just now learning how to cope with the digital invasion in our lives and manage tweets, texts and web chats while still maintaining our personal dignity and privacy. Cole Porter’s music and lyrics for “Anything Goes” recall a more innocent time. Or was it? The musical is set in the Dirty Thirties, when the world was in a depression with a struggling economy. And there it is. Maybe times haven’t changed all that much – or the basic human endeavours of love, deception and celebrity chasing are things that haven’t really changed at all. It’s just the way we communicate them.
Royal City Musical Theatre brings New Westminster’s Massey stage alive with the Tony Award-winning, big tap-dancing musical, “Anything Goes.” Set aboard an oceanliner bound from New York City to London, it’s a stem-to-stern voyage with adrenaline-pumping tap dancing and Porter’s memorable music and lyrics. This wonderful, can’t-miss show runs from April 6 to 23 at Massey Theatre. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with and 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets start at $29 at Ticketsnw.ca, or call 604-521-5050.
“I have always loved ‘Anything Goes,’” says director/choreographer Valerie Easton. “It has an amazing score that will knock you out of your seat, and with tunes that you didn’t know you knew. And the best fun is to choreograph this tap dancing extravaganza.”
Back in the 1990s, when Royal City Musical Theatre Company was in its infancy, the company presented “42nd Street,” which is also a tap dance-oriented show. For a promo, organizers held a giant tap dance event to set a world record for the most people doing a short tap routine. They scored a victory, and also gained good publicity for the newly formed company. Nowadays it would be on YouTube. Ah yes, times have changed. And Valerie, I have finally learned how to do a times step! Thanks for trying to teach it to me way back when.
Porter ruled Broadway in the 1930s, and “Anything Goes” was among his many hits. His score has some of the most popular show tunes of all time, including the tap-dancing title song, the soulful “I Get a Kick Out of You” and a great catalogue of other songs, including “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “You’d Be So Easy to Love” and “Blow Gabriel Blow.”
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Surrey’s Adam Olgui (one of the dancing sailors in this production) says he was a bit intimidated going into the dance auditions for “Anything Goes.” Olgui is a most memorable character, and Surrey audiences may recall his performances with the Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society in the panto “Beauty and the Beast” (he sang “You’re the Top” in that show) and “The Mikado.” He is a graduate of Capilano University’s musical theatre program and honed his tap skills in the program.
“It’s so much fun,” he said about the Royal City production, even though learning the combinations is a challenge. “There is not a weak link in the cast,” added Olgui, who recognizes that about 30 per cent of the cast members are also grads from the Cap U program. That’s an endorsement, for sure.
“Anything Goes” has had numerous revivals over its 80-year history, including a movie version with Ethel Merman, who was the original Reno. In the RCMT production, Reno is played by Maddy Suddaby, also a Cap U grad. James Bryson is the musical director, Christina Sinosich designed costumes and Omanie Elias designed sets. After all, the show is not just about the actors, but also about the staging. All I can say about the creative team is, “You’re the Tops.”
Times have changed. Or have they?
Even with easy-access digital surveys, I was disconcerted to see that only 622 people participated in the City Speaks online survey regarding arts and heritage. We can’t sit back and complain that the city does not do enough to support the arts when we don’t speak!
This survey showed that of the 622 people participating, 47 per cent wanted more cultural spaces for children and youth to learn and create and experience. Next most popular was this: 39 per cent of those surveyed wanted more theatre venues, both large and small. And finally, 35 per cent wanted more classes available.
C’mon Surrey, get involved. The surveys aren’t all about art; the last one was about garbage collection. Go to the City of Surrey’s website (Surrey.ca) and sign up for City Speaks. Arts and culture can thrive in a clean, safe city. Times have changed. Be part of the positive changes.