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LTA puts Broadway on the Potomac with Cole Porter's Anything Goes

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Jan 17,2017
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Ken Kemp (Moonface Martin), Mara Stewart (Reno Sweeney), Marshall Cesena (Billy Crocker)

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Broadway rainmaker Cole Porter composed Anything Goes in a mansion “cottage” in Newport Rhode Island in 1934.  The musical is set aboard a cruise liner sailing from New York to London, with a cast of characters worthy of the name.  Nearly all of them are trying to work an angle on someone; and Porter spares no one in his hilarious and politically incorrect caricatures of Chinese people, clergymen, English nobility, and crooks (or, do they prefer to be called career criminals?).

Hope Harcourt (Tori Garcia) is expected to wed English lord Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (James Maxted) but instead her heart belongs to Billy Crocker (Marshall Cesena).  When Crocker enlists the aid of some criminals who are fleeing the law (including Moonface Martin, Ken Kemp) to win Hope, all comedy breaks loose and the singing and dancing begin.

Veteran director Stefan Sittig compiled a large and talented cast.  The singing was up to snuff considering the score, which includes no less than 16 songs.  Most notable was the lead female, Reno Sweeney as portrayed by Mara Stewart.  Theatre-goer James Carney of Falls Church remarked, “Reno is easily the star of the show.  The dancing got better and better as the show went on.  I just love the Cole Porter music.”  Stewart’s rich and bold alto voice added the vavoom that the music needs like brandy on a cold rainy day. She told Local Kicks, “I work in theater full-time.  I recently moved here from Chicago, and teach theatre classes to kids after school.  It has always been my dream to play Reno Sweeney in this show.” Stewart can add that to her bucket list.

Director Stefan Sittig told Local Kicks that the greatest challenge was finding male tap dancers who were skilled.  Sittig succeeded in that effort; he also acted as choreographer.  The dancing and choreography had that slightly 1920’s Charleston quality, with a delightful swing worthy of the age. Also remarkable were the costumes and costume changes.  The dancers had new costumes for each number, and each new one out-glammed the previous.  It was a fashion show of the early thirties, courtesy of costume designers Kit Sibley and Jean Schlichting, without whom the LTA might cease to function.

Music director Francine Krasowska conducted a live orchestra of a dozen or so instruments.  LTA’s production of Anything Goes was produced by Maria Ciarrocchi and Mary Beth Smith-Toomey.  This production will run until February 4.  Tickets are available at   The Little Theatre of Alexandria is located on Wolfe Street and S. St. Asaph Streets in Old Town, Alexandria.

Photo by Keith Waters for Kx Photography
The cast performing "Let's Step Out"
Photo by Keith Waters for Kx Photography
Mara Stewart (Reno Sweeney) and James Maxted (Sir Evelyn Oakleigh)
Photo by Keith Waters for Kx Photography
Elizabeth Spilsbury (Virtue), Ashley Kaplan (Chastity), Mara Stewart (Reno Sweeney), Katie Mallory (Purity), Caitlyn Goerner (Charity)
Photo by Keith Waters for Kx Photography
The cast performing "Blow Gabriel Blow"

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