Home Entertainment You’re the Top: Peak Performances Wows Audiences with Their Production of ‘Anything Goes’

You’re the Top: Peak Performances Wows Audiences with Their Production of ‘Anything Goes’

by Katie Coryell

Montclair State University’s production of “Anything Goes,” a riveting and musical spectacular filled with mystery and mischief, was an undeniable success.

Walking into the Alexander Kasser Theater for the musical produced by the Department of Theater and Dance was nothing short of magical. The title of the show was lit up with effervescent lights and what seemed to be an already stunning visual set, complete with illustrated portraits of boats, sailors and tourists, the bright blue sky painting the backdrop with clouds.

The audience stilled their idle chatter as soon as a booming cruise ship horn sounded, and soon enough the room was transported to the 1930s high seas.

The first character to appear was Elisha J. Whitney played by Daniel Verschelden. He just so happened to be one of the highlights of the show. His comedic wit and hilarity complete with his adorable plush dog had the audience roaring with laughter.


The cast of “Anything Goes” waves to the audience as they leave at the beginning of the show.
Photo courtesy of Mike Peters

The main characters, Reno Sweeney played by Alexa Racioppi and Billy Crocker played by Maverick Hiu were then introduced. These two had a tangible chemistry and dialogue that set the tone for the entire production; they gave it the pizazz and heart that “Anything Goes” is known for.

The musical is set aboard the SS American, which was portrayed with stark backgrounds and bold colors in order to catch the eyes of the viewers – a successful feat that Montclair State’s theater department, led by set designer Jess Petino, excelled in. Each scene was unique in that the set design itself did not change much, but the different shades of color projected on the ship behind the actors was just enough.

Each character was equipped with stunning and accurate period costumes, led by costume designer Eden Tayar, that were beautifully put together to match their personalities. The women’s costumes were particularly eye-catching, as Reno and Hope Harcourt, played by Megan Hasse, twirled in their gorgeously flowy and diamond-studded gowns. It can be assumed that these were not real diamonds of course, but the glow and shine of the dresses made them look like a million bucks.

Not only were all the characters dressed to the nines, but each of their jokes landed perfectly, sending the audience into a frenzy of giggles and happiness. Every actor gave their characters so much life and personality, making each of them lovable in their own way.


Daniel Verschelden as Elisha J. Whitney speaks with Maverick Hiu as Billy Crocker while Billy pretends to be a sailor on the ship.
Photo courtesy of Mike Peters

As most theater lovers can attest to, “Anything Goes” has some of the most well-loved musical numbers in Broadway history. Songs like “You’re the Top” and “Friendship” had the audience toe-tapping and humming along in their seats. The songs are some of the more traditional show tunes of the early 1930s era. Not only are these tunes, led by orchestra conductor Gregory J. Dlugoscatchy, exciting but the choreography, by Patrice Dlugos, was so much fun. Entertainment at its finest, the largely iconic tap number seen in the Act I finale had everyone in the theater cheering and clapping for more. Mouths dropped at the incredible talent of the actors and ensemble members. It went on for all dance performances in the show, but this number was especially thrilling.


Alexa Racioppi as Reno Sweeney sings the title song “Anything Goes.”
Photo courtesy of Mike Peters

As laughter and comedy was at the core of the show, it was a successful triumph for the Department of Theater and Dance. The professionalism that sat alongside everyone who put their all into the production really showed. It deserves any and all praise that it receives. While the performance of “Anything Goes” has ended, you can catch announcements about their future productions on their website www.peakperfs.org.


This article was corrected on March 21, 2018.

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