‘Anything Goes’ brings back memories of innocent times

Carissa Bowlin

Moonface Martin, played by Hollis Hayden Jr., and Reno Sweeney, played by Meg Cavanaugh, dance during “Anything Goes,” which runs through Feb. 27.

Credit: Andrew popik

For the next 10 days, student performers will get the chance to test out their tap-dancing skills.

The School of Theatre and Dance is presenting “Anything Goes” today through Feb. 27 in the E. Turner Stump Theatre.

Director Terri Kent enjoys the production as it brings back another era before metal detectors and surveillance cameras.

“I love ‘Anything Goes’ and the time period it’s set in, the 1930s, a time when you could laugh about things like stowaways on ships,” Kent said. “Today, since 9/11, we don’t have that freedom. We are always living with a threat.”

“Anything Goes” is set on a ship, the SS America, as it sails from New York to England. Set directors actually designed and built a ship for the stage complete with rotating sets. Aboard are characters ranging from a gangster disguised as a priest to a night club evangelist.

Senior musical theater major Nick Horton plays the lead role of Billy.

“I love the role,” Horton said. “Every character you play has a challenge. With Billy there is more musical comedy. I have to be a lot bigger with the energy in his character.”

Choreographer, Eric van Baars is treating the show as a period piece, keeping the dance appropriate to what was actually done in the 1930s. He’s included elements of Ballroom dance and some jazzy numbers, but the production predominately showcases tap dancing.

“Its fun and challenging because we haven’t done a big tap musical,” van Baars said.

Cast member, Bethany Wood is a tap dancing angel, Honesty, who has put in considerable time to make sure the angels have their steps down.

“In addition to the nightly four hour rehearsals, we also meet an hour or so before rehearsal to make sure we get it,” Wood said.

Kent has professional experience acting in “Anything Goes” and knew Kent State University had students to deliver the parts

“I know this show really well. I acted in it professionally twice before.” Kent said. “It’s such a happy, fun, comedic piece and we have such talented students, it was hard to pick who and who not to cast.”

Although Kent will draw from her past experience to direct the show, she wants the students to be able to use their own creativity to develop characters and bring their own interpretations to the musical.

“There will always be a similarity between productions of ‘Anything Goes,’ but I want to depend on what the actors bring to the show. I don’t want to repeat my own instincts. I want it to be an authentic student production.” Kent said.

The musical has been revised since its original script written in 1934. This script is obsolete, but versions from both 1962 and 1988 are available for use. The 1988 script, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, was chosen because racial slurs involving Asian Americans were omitted from the text.

“We are doing the 1988 version because it is more politically correct,” Kent said, “The world is a different place now and I’m hoping it’s not offensive.”

All in all students are having fun with the show and progress is being made.

“Costumes for this show are more fun, with frothy sailors’ suits to some cute sexy angel numbers,” Kent said, “There are some loose jokes in the show and we’re enjoying the comedy of it.”

As cast member Ryan Washabaugh puts it: “I love ‘Anything Goes,’ it’s a tap extravaganza.”

For tickets call 330-672-2497.

Contact performing arts reporter Carissa Bowlin at [email protected]