Review: Ursuline Academy students shine in 'Anything Goes'

All aboard the S. S. American. Whether you are boarding with a stolen passport or sailing away to be married, “Anything Goes.” In Ursuline Academy’s rendition of this marvelous musical, each character sparkled like the ocean they were traveling on.

Set in the 1930s, one intriguing traveler, Billy Crocker (Connor Bernard), decides to stow away in pursuit of his love, Hope Harcourt (Erin Frey). In his antics, Crocker crosses paths with an old friend, dazzling Reno Sweeney (Kennedy Carstens). Sweeney, a nightclub singer that shone her way to the top, and Moonface Martin (CJ Allen), a wanted (but harmless) gangster, assist Billy in his plan to break up the betrothed Hope and Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Taylor Robinette).

Vivacious voices, captivating choreography and a sensational set carried the show. While Ursuline Academy has all-female enrollment, rough waters may have been faced when finding male actors but this obstacle was smoothly overcome. With student choreography and a boat-load cast, long rehearsals proved to be beneficial as the final production was watertight.

Portraying a character with such a pristine voice requires that the actor/actress has such a voice of his or her own and Kennedy Carstens and Connor Bernard proved they do. Defying the limitations of her cold, Carstens’ performance was untarnished, especially in “Anything Goes” and the show-stopping “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” Carstens captured the compelling Reno Sweeney and added her own zest. Bernard’s “sea legs” were a crowd-pleaser and his performances in “You’re The Top” and “All Through The Night” were not only superb, but also endearing. Without these two, the show would not have left the harbor.

From CJ Allen’s first appearance to the last scene, the audience couldn’t stop laughing when Public Enemy No. 13, Moonface Martin, was on stage. Allen stood out with his strong comedic role and “Be Like The Bluebird” instantly became a crowd favorite. With a consistent accent as Bonnie, Julia Kempf provided hilarity when scenes were inevitably slow as she and Allen’s roles bounced off each other. Reno’s Angels (Colleen Ray, Rachel Entrup, Ana Aguilar, Eva France) added Purity, Charity, Chastity and Virtue to the production. Conquering traditionally male roles, Michaela Black as Purser and Nina Reininger as Steward gave the story a twist by changing the roles to female. Erin Frey as Hope Harcourt reasonably carried her character throughout the production under Hope’s haughty mother, Mrs. Wadsworth T. Harcourt, played finely by Katie Georgeopoulos. Taylor Robinette as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh depicted an Englishman and gentleman very well and contributed greatly to humorous aspects of the show. The Dance Chorus and Chorus kept the deck alive and provided flawless emphasis for major scenes and plot points.

The set was a multiple-tiered, yellow and blue deck and the front staircases were intricately curved inward. As the deck was realistic with life preservers and railings, it captured the nautical feeling of being at sea. While there were a few mic mishaps, they were overcome gracefully and handled flawlessly by the cast and sound crew. Costumes took the anchor-shaped cake, specifically Reno’s dazzling finale dress and the student-made sailor outfits worn by the Dance Chorus. Another notable costume decision was for the incognito run crew to wear their traditional all black attire but additionally with white sailor collars.

Ursuline Academy’s rendition of “Anything Goes” was a successful production that left the audience feeling “De-lovely.”

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