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Cole is hot this season

(ran North, South editions of Pasco Times)

It must be The Year of Cole Porter. The Show Palace Dinner Theatre is doing two Porter shows, Richey Suncoast Theatre is doing one, and there's even a movie out about him.

And why not?

Porter's timeless melodies are smooth and soothing, with words that mean something and tunes that replay pleasantly in the head.

The Show Palace opens its first Porter show on Oct. 1 with Anything Goes, a shipboard comedy in the screwball style_ snobs, elegance, slapstick, exotic locale and zany characters. (The second, Red Hot and Cole, arrives in April.)

In Anything Goes, evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Katie Kerwin, Velma in Chicago) and her singing Angels board the S.S. American bound for England. Also aboard are Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Matthew McGee, Mary Sunshine in Chicago), a rich English gent; Hope Harcourt (Lynetta Ivey, Magnolia in Showboat), whose snobby mom wants her to marry Sir Evelyn; and Bishop Henry Dobson (R. Matthew Ruley, detective in Run for Your Wife) and his two Chinese converts, Ching (Danny Brijbag, Ito in Mame) and Ling (S. DelBeato).

Young Billy Crocker (Gregory D. Stockbridge, Smokey Joe's Cafe) has come aboard to drop off his boss' passport, but just as he is disembarking, he notices that the woman he loves, Ms. Harcourt, is on the ship and decides to become a stowaway in hopes of wooing her away from Sir Evelyn.

The collection of characters is rounded out by Moonface Martin (Candler Budd, John Smith in Run for Your Wife), who is Public Enemy No. 13 with ambitions to move up to, say, Public Enemy No. 11, since 13 hasn't been his lucky number.

Then begins a series of mistaken identities, disguises, and romances: Sir Evelyn is engaged to Hope; Billy is in love with Hope; Hope finally falls for Billy; Sir Evelyn begins to cast his eyes elsewhere. And the real and fake ministers change places and end up in the brig. But most of all are those Porter tunes: I Get a Kick Out of You, Friendship, It's De-Lovely, and Blow, Gabriel, Blow, to name a few.

"This is a big singing show, not a big dancing show," though there is dancing, said Ms. Kerwin, who is assisting McGee in directing duties in addition to choreographing and playing Reno in the show.

She sees Reno Sweeney as the direct opposite of her most recent Show Palace role as nightclub dancer Velma Kelly in Chicago.

"Velma has an evil side, but Reno is a charmer," Ms. Kerwin said. "Reno's been around the block, but she's a good spirit, more positive."

Early in the show, it looks as though Reno would like her buddy relationship with Billy to turn into romance. "But she's older than Billy and he's not her type," Ms. Kerwin said.

She thinks that the Sir Evelyn role is the perfect one for McGee.

"At first, Sir Evelyn is very controlled," she said. Then he sees free-spirited Reno and he sings that it brings out the Gypsy in Me, and he shows the audience his fun side.

As for Stockbridge as Billy, "We wanted somebody who had a really strong voice, a real crooner. Greg was perfect."

The show has a cast of 29. Music is arranged and recorded by Gary Wyatt and Joe Camper.

If you go

WHAT: Anything Goes

WHERE: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson

WHEN: Oct. 1-Nov. 20 (note that show has been extended one week). Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, and 1:30 p.m. most Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting Oct. 13. Doors open two hours before each show for buffet and full cash bar.

TICKETS: Dinner and show, $39.50; show only, $28.45; ages 12 and younger, $21.95 and $16.95, all plus tax and tip. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll free elsewhere 1-888-655-7469.