It’s the Top: “Anything Goes” Dazzles and York, Franklin, and Applegate Wow DPAC Patrons

Rachel York (center) stars as sultry evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney in the Roundabout Theatre Company's tour of its Tony Award®-winning 2011 Broadway revival of "Anything Goes" (photo by Joan Marcus)
Rachel York (center) stars as sultry evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s tour of its Tony Award®-winning 2011 Broadway revival of “Anything Goes” (photo by Joan Marcus)

When the votes are tallied for the Top 10 Triangle Musicals of 2013, the national tour of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s A-Number-One 2011 Broadway revival of the 1934 Cole Porter musical Anything Goes will be on top of the heap! Indeed, it’s March 19th opening-night performance made Durham Performing Arts Center patrons stand up and cheer!

Award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, who added the 2011 Tony Award® for Best Choreography for Anything Goes to a shelf that already holds her Best Choreography Tonys for the 2004 revival of Wonderful Town and the 2006 revival of The Pajama Game, fills the DPAC stage with ingenious and exuberant dance routines that put a little extra pep in the step of her supremely talented cast of well-respected Broadway veterans and promising newcomers.

Rachel York is a regular ball of fire as sultry evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney. She sings; she dances; she cracks wise in the hilarious Mae West fashion.

Josh Franklin is a pip as stowaway stockbroker Billy Crocker, who boards the London-bound S.S. American, hoping to hook up — in the mid-1930s sense — with beautiful American debutante Hope Harcourt (Alex Finke), not knowing that she’s traveling with her gorgon of a mother, Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt (Sandra Shipley), and wealthy but stuffy British fiancé Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Edward Staudenmayer). Franklin and Finke have great chemistry; Shipley barks and growls at Hope, who refuses to heel; and Staudenmayer’s sidesplitting portrait of a priggish peer with a surprising secret is a verbal and physical gem.

Even as Billy’s hoped-for romance with Hope hits rough waters, Fred Applegate and Joyce Chittick sidle onto the stage as tough-talking “Public Enemy Number 13” Moonface Martin and his man-crazy sidekick Erma. Applegate and Chittick are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Additional comic relief is provided by Dennis Kelly as Billy’s loopy boss, Wall Street financier Elisha J. Whitney, a proud graduate of Yale University and a skirt chaser with bulldog persistence; and Chuck Wagner and Jeff Brooks also have their moments of mirth as the ship’s Captain and its Purser, who are desperate to identify onboard celebrities to provide grist for the ship’s gossip mill.

Gary Lindemann contributes an amusing cameo as the Right Rev. Bishop Henry T. Dobson, who boards the S.S. American with two recent Chinese converts (Vincent Rodriguez III and Marcus Shane as Luke and John), whom Dobson fears will backslide into their old sinful ways as soon as they get their hands on a deck of cards.

Magnificent musical staging by director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall and music director Jay Alger also add pizzazz to the production numbers of the current national tour of Anything Goes. They turn the title tune into a show-stopping nine-minute tap-dance extravaganza to end Act I, and then top themselves with a robust mid-Act II rendition of “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” — performed by Rachel York as Reno Sweeney and Jacqueline Burtney, Courtney Rottenberger, Donna Thomas Littleton, Vanessa Sonon as her hip-swinging “angels” Purity, Chastity, Charity, and Virtue, respectively — that really does stop the show for a couple of minutes of frenzied applause,

Original Broadway scenic designer Derek McLane and costume designer Martin Pakledinaz contribute jaw-dropping sets and Technicolor recreations of Thirties glad-rags and shipboard attire, and lighting designer Howell Binkley and sound designer Brian Ronan also do their parts to make Anything Goes a must-see musical. Don’t miss director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall and cohorts’ fresh new take on a classic musical. The show’s dynamic dance numbers will make the audience want to leave their seats join in the fun on stage. Don’t miss Anything Goes!

SECOND OPINION: March 20th Durham, NC Herald-Sun review and March 15th preview, both by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: and (Note: You must register to read these articles); March 20th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks:; March 20th Burlington, NC Times-News “Teens & Twenties” review by Lincoln Pennington:; and March 20th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts & Entertainment review by Susie Potter; and March 20th Raleigh, NC Triangle Business Journal slideshow by Dathan Kazsuk: . (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the March 19th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click

Durham Performing Arts Center presents ANYTHING GOES, starring Rachel York as Reno Sweeney at 7:30 p.m. March 21, 8 p.m. March 22, 2 and 8 p.m. March 23, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 24 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco District).

TICKETS: $42.50-$111.00 (including fees), except $17.50 Student Rush Tickets.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), , or

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-281-0587,, or

NOTE: DPAC will sell Student Rush Tickets for $17.50 (plus service fee if purchased online), located on Row P of the Balcony. For details, click



STUDY GUIDES: (Roundabout Theatre Company) and (Utah Shakespeare Festival).







Anything Goes (background): (Roundabout Theatre Company page) and (Wikipedia).

Cole Porter: (Cole Wide Web) and (Wikipedia).

Roundabout Theatre Company: (official website) and (Wikipedia).

The Tour: (official website).

Tour Cast and Creative Team: (official web page).

Kathleen Marshall: ( bio) and (Wikipedia)

Rachel York: (official website) and (Wikipedia).

Josh Franklin: (official website) and ( bio).

Fred Applegate: (official website) and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).