Anything Goes at Beef & Boards 

***1/2
click to enlarge Erma (Sarah Joy Ledtke) sings “Buddie Beware” to her potential sailor suitors in Beef & Boards' production of Anything Goes.
  • Erma (Sarah Joy Ledtke) sings “Buddie Beware” to her potential sailor suitors in Beef & Boards' production of Anything Goes.

Sparkling energy makes Beef & Boards' 80th anniversary presentation of Cole Porter's Anything Goes freshly engaging. Porter's hummable music and always smart, alternately tender and saucy lyrics make us "wish they still were writing songs like that," per more than one such comment by fellow audience members.

The bounty includes the zesty "I Get A Kick Out of You," "You're The Top," "It's Delovely," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," and "The Gypsy in Me"; the winsome ballads "Easy To Love," "All Through The Night" and Goodbye, Little Dream Goodbye"; the wry "Friendship" and "Be Like The Bluebird"; and of course the high-kicking "Anything Goes."

This improbable lark aboard a boat bound for England, which opened November 21, 1934, was intended to lighten the dark aspects of the Great Depression. Its revivals in 1962, 1987 and 2001 were equally welcome respites, and it's the same for now.

Jack Milo makes you want to invite Moonface Martin Public Enemy #13 home for dinner. Douglas E. Stark wraps his bountiful zest around his Yale-ness. Jeff Stockberger is a delightfully unlordly Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Sarah Joy Ledtke high kicks and shimmies into the hearts of the crew. Susan B. Smith delivers more than one surprise as Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt. Timothy Ford and Whitney Meyer steal your heart as they did each other's as Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt. And masterminding all the hoopla is the unstoppable Deb Wims as Reno Sweeney.

With a supporting cast delivering equally fine singing, dancing and acting, what's not to like? Choreography, costumes, set, sound and lighting design, and orchestra are splendid. Douglas E. Stark directed. Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse wrote the original book with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. When real events necessitated revisions to the original premise, the story was revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The new book is by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.

As a side note, B&B now is serving Lafayette-based Peoples Brewing Company craft beers available in bottles and cans and poured at your table into glassware appropriate to the style. Can pull tabs are donated to Ronald McDonald House.

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