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Chantilly High School in Chantilly, Virginia, presented Anything Goes to the Cappies Critics on April 19, 2024. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Ellen Lawton

Herndon High School


Ahoy, matey- welcome aboard! The bar is to the right, cabins are belowdecks, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of Public Enemy Number Thirteen. With a shout of ‘anchors aweigh!’ the course is set for a rollicking good time at Chantilly High School’s production of Anything Goes.


The show - a Cole Porter classic- is a celebration of the jazzy 1930s, with humor as fresh as a new shave and songs that are still catchy almost a century later. Billy Crocker, who’s madly in love with charming Hope Harcourt, stows away on an ocean liner in an attempt to prevent her wedding to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Billy didn’t quite think things through, however, and soon everyone onboard is caught up in love triangles, stolen identities, and the occasional tap number. Since its premiere in 1934, Anything Goes has been beloved for its delightful irreverence- reminding its audience that, in the end, life is meant to be enjoyed.


Chantilly’s production certainly achieved this goal; with a breezy manner that belied some very hard work, the show was a triumphant frolic. Whole groups of sailors were taught to tap-dance, dress patterns were adapted for historical accuracy, and the props department 3D printed an entire camera. Life may be a celebration, but Chantilly certainly put in the planning. And where would such a party be without its star?


Bridget Dombro, as nightclub singer slash evangelist Reno Sweeney, had enough charisma to power an entire marquee of lights. Every raised eyebrow and well-delivered quip perfectly pieced together Reno’s persona. Dombro’s dancing was just as electric, from swing-like steps to full tap spins and shuffles. Even as the choreography heated up, Dombro’s face never lost its winning smile. In numbers like “You’re the Top,” Dombro (along with Will Sanfilippo as Billy Crocker) dazzled the audience, smirking as the pair perfectly delivered each pun.


Equally showstopping were David Garcia as the gangster Moonface Martin and Grace Drost as his sidekick Erma- a duo that certainly held the key to comedy, if not the key to their jail cell. Garcia adopted a classic New York accent, while Drost spoke with an old-fashioned flair that brought black-and-white movies to mind. In “Buddie, Beware” Drost held a crowd of sailors in thrall, singing with a rich, jazzy vibrato. Garcia, meanwhile, serenaded Sanfilippo’s Billy with “Be Like the Bluebird,” a song lovingly addressed to a small blue spotlight, flickering on the walls of their stateroom.


The candy-striped set (Peyton Dunham, Dylan Hancock) was an ingenious cross between a child’s toy boat and a charming dollhouse. Whole sections of wall folded out to reveal tucked-away rooms, patterned with period-accurate paper, that were then furnished with beds, desks, and trunks. A functioning balcony stretched over the top of the ship as well, providing a stage for many secret trysts in the moonlight. Choreographing such scenes, meanwhile, were Mary Clare Pelczynski and Sam Wolff. The pair’s work shone with versatility, from waltzes for whimsical lovers to full-on tap in the first act finale, and truly made the show a spectacle. In addition, most of the cast learned the various dance styles from scratch, and yet executed it without a hitch. In ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow,’ Reno and her Angels performed impressive lifts inspired by the swing dancing of the 30s, and in ‘Anything Goes,’ the ensemble tapped in perfect unison, even while wearing satin evening gowns.


With a perfect mix of humor, heart, and hard work, Chantilly put on a stellar show. As Lord Evelyn might say, anyone would “have hot pants” for such a “delightful, delicious, de-lovely” romp.

Cullan Kelley

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The sea breeze blows, bringing the sound of crashing waves with it. Somewhere, a dog barks. Music is heard below, accompanied by raucous shouts. Welcome to the deck of the S.S. American in Chantilly High School’s production of Anything Goes.


Anything Goes, written by Cole Porter, debuted in 1934. The story is very much a reflection of its time, harkening back to the Roaring 20s and the wealth that flowed through the Americas after World War 1. The story follows a cruise ship carrying patrons such as a famous gangster, a British lord, his uncertain fiancé, and one stowaway Wall Street assistant. Over the course of the show, characters fall in and out of love, build lasting friendships, and learn the value of persistence.


The ensemble delighted onstage, maintaining incredible characterization through synchronized dance numbers like “Bon Voyage” and “Finale: It’s De-Lovely.” Each actor had well-established and entertaining character choices, from the sailors’ lockstep marching to the thick New York accent of Moonface Martin, that remained consistent for the whole show.


Featured Dancers Mary Clare Pelczynski and Sam Wolff commanded the stage, leading large ensemble numbers such as “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and “Public Enemy Number One” with detailed, technical movements. Throughout “Anything Goes,” a large tap number, they demonstrated remarkable proficiency, showing off quick, difficult steps and flourishes while maintaining character expressions and vocals. Both performed several solos as well, with Wolff’s closing pirouettes maintaining the elegant ambiance of the cruise ship.


Kai Obernberger’s Lord Evelyn Oakleigh brought comedic bits to the forefront of the stage, with both physical and vocal changes used humorously. Throughout the first act, Obernberger used a haughty strut and a high, drawn-out posh British accent to create an initial characterization of Evelyn as a buffoon, making moments of genuine and intentional humor in “Drifter in Me” all the more interesting. Obernberger’s use of a notepad to record unfamiliar American slang was similarly entertaining, using pauses and double-backs to enhance the timing of the running joke.


The costumes, designed by Lake Ervin, Austen Locke, and Emma Mai, brilliantly captured the period, with Billy's half-tuxedo and Moonface’s gangster suit shining amid a wealth of dresses, sailor uniforms, and more. The immersion was heightened throughout, with dedicated research towards each kind of attire. Each ensemble member’s costume was also delicately detailed to represent their social and fiscal standing, with patches and rips on poorer characters' suits and elegant lace accentuating upper-crust ladies’ dresses. Especially dazzling were pieces such as Erma and her Virtues’ flapper dresses for “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” with matching patterns between the Virtues, and Erma’s dress bearing opposing patterns.


The ambiance was further enhanced by Peyton Dunham and Dylan Hancock’s set design, which used the plentiful stage space to construct two full decks of a cruise vessel, complete with folding out staterooms, a brig, and multiple passageways. Each interior section was decorated beautifully, with rich details matching each inhabitant. Paintings, telephones, and gold furnishings were resplendent in the elite’s lavish cabins, while the damp brig was completed with dark, stained blocks and darker tones.


Chantilly High School’s production of Anything Goes was a fun, flamboyant, and fascinating show, telling a story of persistence, love, and wealth on the high seas.


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