Sayville High School’s musical production of Anything Goes pulled out all the stops and delivered superb entertainment. While the Cole Porter hits are the dominant focus of the musical, they are embedded in a satirical comedy situated on board the S.S. America ocean liner bound for England and peopled by stereotypes from eras gone-by. Yet, the rendition of this 1962 revival was capably embodied by the sensitive and thoughtful Sayville Brook Street Players who fused hilarity with humanity. Spectacular tap-dancing and dazzling costumes gave glamour and glitter to the production. No less impressive was the set, the "Afterdeck" on a massive white ocean liner detailed with aluminum-rimmed portholes, rivets, and railing, sky-blue doors that worked and seemingly went places, and well-appointed guest cabins and staterooms. All the while, the stage crew and the pit musicians expertly made magic behind-the-scenes to keep the production afloat.
Without question, the outstanding vocals were the tops!
Samantha LoGrippo was a powerhouse performer and personality, perfect in face and figure as show-biz sensation Reno Sweeney. In such numbers as You’re the Top, Friendship, Anything Goes, and Take Me Back to Manhattan, her beauty, grace and unforgettable voice gave depth to each number. However Sam/Reno’s solo I Get a Kick Out of You and performance of Blow Gabriel Blow with the company proved to be the musical linchpins for the entire production.
Similarly Melina Piervencenti was effervescent as Bonnie, the buoyant blonde and sexy stowaway. Melina mesmerized with her vivacious vocals and her spunky characterization of the gangster’s girl who had brains besides sparkling sex appeal. Melina/Bonnie breathtakingly tap-danced her way into everyone’s hearts with Heaven Hop, Anything Goes, and Let’s Step Out and was a complete joy to watch whenever and wherever she appeared on stage.
As the heiress Hope Harcourt, Gabrielle Medeck adorably played Billy Crocker’s love interest. Sharing Billy’s mischievousness, Hope seemed his ideal match, but her long-term betrothal to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh was a stumbling block. Portraying a quick-witted and spirited Hope, Gabrielle showcased her splendid singing voice with It’s De-Lovely and especially in All Through the Night, her duet with Billy.
Although the role of Mrs. Wadsworth T. Harcourt –“mother”—was less center stage than the other female leads, Kaitlyn Maher made her presence memorable and felt, balancing both comedy and menace in every line.
While the male leads were mostly comedy-driven, the role of charming Billy Crocker expertly played by Hunter Caiazzo had his share of musical numbers fit for swooning. Whether he was singing and dancing with Reno in You’re the Top, extolling Friendship with Moonface and Reno, or sharing the musical number with Hope and the chorus in It’s De-Lovely, Hunter was spot-on in character, voice, and choreography.
Producing laughs galore were two male leads, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Christopher Quartuccio) and Moonface Martin (Shaun Gibbons).
Christopher as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh mastered the nerdy role of the bumbling but loveably earnest British aristocrat in his every gesture and quip. Even during his musical number Let’s Misbehave with Reno, Chris/Evelyn strutted and gyrated awkwardly, furthering the visual comedy of the character with his lanky frame to the audience’s tremendous amusement.
Shaun Gibbons played Moonface Martin as if born to the role. From his thick gangster New York accent, to his goofy facial expressions, Shaun effortlessly endowed Moonface with the most essential comic ingredient—great timing. Whether Moonface was trying to blend with the passengers, communicate with the Chinese converts, or help Billy find assorted disguises in his quest to win Hope’s love, Shaun carried this central comic character with delicious execution.
Alex Pittari as Elisha J.Whitney has been no stranger to the nuances of comedy. While his comic role required more restraint than either the gangly Brit or loveable lump, he succeeded in merging the nasty attributes of Billy’s fickle boss with the delirious drunk who mistakenly mourns over a lounge chair covered by an empty blanket.
Although identified individually, Reno’s Angels—backup singers and dancers Chastity (Christina LaFroscia), Purity (Gianna Romano), Virtue (Cameryn Surdi), Charity (Chloe McCormack-Falk), Patience (Erika Powers), and Prudence (Jackie Weinfeld)—moved like heavenly bodies in perfect synchrony. Also demonstrating their exceptional dancing and singing talents were Bonnie's Girls (Isabell Arzt, Michelle Buono, Elizabeth Campbell, Anna Crisalli, Meghan Dooley, Nicolette Furno, Caterina Harris, Gabriella Luthy, Olivia Reiss, and Victoria Trotta). When the Angels and Bonnie’s Girls joined in a tap-dance routine to Anything Goes, their spectacular toe-tapping rhythms were a thrill to behold and hear.
Roguish Chinese Christian “converts” Luke (James Anderson) and John (Aidan DeVerna) may have had few speaking lines as cardsharks mingling with the passengers, but their effective use of body language and comic facial expressions compelled audiences to hearty laughter.
While kudos also go to the ancillary roles that gave the S.S. America such diverse character, including Captain (Chris Pitre), Bishop (Evan Powers), the memorable drunk man (Kyle Finn), Steward (Liz Campell), Purser (Khalil Kaczmarek), Reporter (Adele Micelli), Globe Photographer (Erik Person), the fan girls (Vicotria Earovlino, Paige Gaiser, Anna Crisalli) and the ensemble, the success of this voyage rested on the shoulders of so many. Congratulations go to Director Jeffrey Hoffman and Executive Producer Ari L. Kramer, with a special nod to Choreographer and Costumes Director Denise Baio for the phenomenal success of all the tap-dancers and costume changes. In addition, tremendous acknowledgements go to Orchestra Conductor Kerri Van Boxel and pit musicians, Set Designer Chris Kenyon, Stage Manager Lillian Schweikert, Sound Director Joseph Albanese and Harrison Berg, Lighting Directors Ari L. Kramer, Autumn Dushnick, Eric Foster along with all the supporting crew members, stage hands, and parent volunteers for an amazing production.
To sum it up in the quintessential lyrics of Cole Porter, Sayville’s musical Anything Goes was "delightful, delicious, delectable, delirious, dilemma, de limit, deluxe, and de-lovely!"