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Classic 'Anything Goes' Ready to Sail onto Stage

by and on July 09, 2014 3:45 PM

State College Community Theatre kicks off summer with a splash at Mt. Nittany Middle School on Friday, July 11, when cast and crew board the ocean liner S.S. American and set sail with the classic Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes."

The 80-year-old show has endured primarily due to its up-tempo melodies, witty dialogue and Porter's sophisticated lyrics.

One of musical theater's finest lyricists, Porter, unlike his contemporaries, had rural roots, growing up in Indiana. The songs featured in the show incorporate a simple elegance with a risqué edge and, frequently, biting humor.

"It's one of those shows that's still around and popular. I'd say it's still contemporary," says director Mike Knarr.

A raucous array of characters includes evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney (Ashley Moore), debutante Hope Harcourt (Morgan Sichler), Hope's fiancé, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Lyn J. Freymiller), Reno's friend Billy Crocker (Chris Hirsh), and second-rate thug and Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin (Rob Arnold).

The musical is set on a luxury liner sailing for England. Reno Sweeney wants to help her friend Billy win the heart and hand of Hope, currently engaged to marry the Englishman Lord Evelyn. Things get twisted when Moonface Martin, disguised as a minister, tries to help. Shenanigans ensue with a broken engagement, mistaken identities, a little bit of blackmail, a love triangle, women of questionable reputations, gangsters, a freshly-groomed canine and, oh yes, plenty of tap-dancing.

Memorable songs from "Anything Goes" include "I Get a Kick out of You," "You're the Top," and, of course, "Anything Goes."

This SCCT production features a full pit orchestra under the direction of Colleen Kennedy, and choreography by Rachael Gigar.

Moore appeared last summer as Marian in "The Music Man." Her Reno Sweeney takes a radical departure from the demure character she previously portrayed. She projects a contagious energy that the rest of the cast manages to meet.

The dialogue, chock-full of double-entendres, gets skillful handling with these performers. Knarr sees to it that each actor's natural reactions work their way into each scene. And, the audience can't help but get caught up in the silliness.

The Depression-era Broadway hit retains plenty of humor and edginess today. It may not fly, but it sure does sail.


What: "Anything Goes"

When: July 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19

Where: Mount Nittany Middle School Auditorium, 656 Brandywine Drive, State College

For more information or to purchase tickets visit

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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