Anything Goes brings a 1930s musical into the 21st Century


Lucia Campbell

Audience members fizzed with nostalgia during Theatre Ink’s performance of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes musical. Directed and choreographed by Katie Clark, the show ran March 23-26 in the auditorium.

Anything Goes is a unique production for North because it’s a musical set in the 1930s and North usually does more contemporary musicals,” said senior Anika Bhawalkar, who played Evangeline Harcourt. 

Anything Goes is set aboard the ocean liner S. S. American, where the glamorous nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, played by senior Sophia Keohane, is traveling from New York to England. Meanwhile, her friend, Billy Crocker, played by senior Jack Kalish-Demaris, has snuck on the ocean liner to be near Hope Harcourt, played by senior Ava Lyons. Hope is madly in love with Billy, despite her engagement to the wealthy British Lord, Evelyn Oakleigh, played by senior David Tarrega. 

The plot follows this turbulent love triangle while a comedic plot line simultaneously unfolds following Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, played by sophomore Toby Gilpin and his sidekick-in-crime Erma, played by junior Ruby Metcalf, who are dressed in elaborate yet hilarious disguises.

The show is a depression-era musical that may, at first, seem difficult to relate to. However, the true brilliance of the show lies in its timeless ability to enamor the audience with catchy music and the plot’s unostentatious happy ending. 

“At the start, a lot of people were disappointed, myself included, I was like I don’t want to do some old show,” said Bhawalkar. ”But it ended up being much more fun than I expected and the soundtrack is really beautiful.”

PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton co-wrote the original book, Anything Goes, in 1934. Since then, it has been redone time and time again with different interpretations.

North’s interpretation of the character Hope Harcourt vastly differed from the most well-known interpretations of the character, switching up the audience’s outlook on the plot as a whole.

“I think that Hope is often played as very sweet and unintelligent, but really Hope is a very complex and passionate character. I wanted to play her in a strong feminine way to bring a new perspective to this golden age, older show, to bring more nuance and make her more realistic,” said Lyons. 

In order to remove an offensive term and remain inclusive, Theatre Ink’s Anything Goes replaced one of the musical’s original songs with “Spaniard in Me.”

“Everyone brought their own unique spin on all of the characters, like the changes in Tarrega’s song ‘Spaniard in Me,’” said senior Abby Puduseril, who played Virtue, one of Reno’s angels. 

One highlight was the tap number during the song “Anything Goes.” The astounding, complex dance number was executed with grace and unity by the entire cast of 42 people ranging from complete beginners to experts at tap.

“‘Anything Goes’ is probably my favorite number in the entire show because it starts out as Reno and the angels tap dancing and then gradually the rest of the cast joins in, and the audience’s amazement is so rewarding,” said Puduseril.

Because some students began with minimal tap dance experience, Clark ran weekly dance workshops where cast members could learn basic terms and steps while dancing together. “Everyone came into the show with different experience levels, some people already knew how to tap, some didn’t,” said Puduseril. “But we all worked together to help each other, which smoothed out the process.” 

The cast’s great collective efforts, patience, teamwork, and connection allowed them to achieve a beautifully synched end result. 

According to Bhawalkar, the cast’s instant connection and unified love for the musical allowed them to not only exceed the audience’s expectations but also perfectly deliver the message that “Love shows up in unusual places in unusual ways.”