Theater Review: ‘Anything Goes’ is Delightful at Gateway Playhouse

Andrea McArdle and the cast of Anything Goes
Andrea McArdle and the cast of Anything Goes, Photo: Jeff Bellante

Gateway Playhouse has kicked off its season with the delightfully entertaining romp Anything Goes. Set on a ship bound to New York from London, Anything Goes provides fun and antics that will have you laughing out loud!

The story follows a young broker on Wall Street, Billy Crocker (played by the adorable Josh Canfield), who fancies himself in love with heiress Hope Harcourt (played by Patti-Lee Meringo). He stows away on the ship Hope’s sailing on, with the help of some shady characters named Moonface Martin (Ray Demattis) and Erma (Mychal Philllips), to try and gain her affections.

The two would-be lovers have quite a few obstacles to overcome. Hope is engaged to Englishman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Ian Knauer) and chaperoned by her overbearing, melodramatic mother, Evangeline Harcourt (Sally Struthers). Struthers entered the stage to thunderous applause and immediately the audience began laughing. Her timing is spot on, and she brings the hilarity of Evangeline to life.

Much like the planets revolve around the sun, the show and all its characters rotate around the vivacious nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney (Andrea McArdle). McArdle has an impressive résumé, most famously becoming the youngest actress ever to be nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Annie in the original 1977 Broadway show. Since then she’s performed in some of the most notable theaters around the world, has played countless leading ladies, and now she’s lighting up the stage at the Gateway Playhouse. McArdle’s Reno is flashy, outspoken, a little crass, a little loose with the gentlemen, but she’s also got a vulnerable side—especially when it comes to Billy. And when she sings? It’s compelling and endearing. Her full, slightly raspy voice is committed to each note. She embodies her character.

Some recognizable, favorite numbers include “I Get a Kick Out of You,” sung by Reno to Billy. Although Billy feels only friendship toward Reno, it’s obvious that she wants more. You can’t help but feel sympathy for her. Billy and Reno’s other number, “You’re the Top,” is so darn cute your toes are likely to curl. Canfield as Billy has a soft-yet-strong timbre that’s mesmerizing, and McArdle is all sass and passion. Reno and Moonface, who’s a gangster disguised as a priest for much of the show, take on the tune “Friendship,” and their antics will have you giggling.

Hope and Billy share the ballad “It’s De-Lovely,” and it’s all that and more. Meringo, in the role of Hope, is sweet, soft and lovely, and she’s the perfect lady—quite the opposite of Reno. Yet the two seem to have forged a friendship when all is said and done. “Buddie Beware,” sung by Erma, is a bit raunchy, but a whole lot of fun. Phillips is hysterical as the brazen babe who makes no bones about who and what she is, to the delight of the sailors onboard the ship.

“Anything Goes” is the big, flashy, classic Broadway number. Tap shoes on point, the talented cast dances its way into your heart, putting on a spectacular number that will leave you breathless.

Summer is finally here and Gateway Playhouse is back, better than ever, delivering its first hit of the 2016 season!

Anything Goes is playing at the barn in Bellport through June 4. Up next for Gateway: Million Dollar Quartet (June 8-–25), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (June 28–July 16) and The Rocky Horror Show (August 24–September 10). For more information and to purchase tickets visit

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