NORTH EAST — Hilarity ensues in Milburn Stone Theatre’s production of “Anything Goes” when a hopeless romantic Wall Street broker, the heiress he is pining after, the over-the-top British nobleman she is engaged to, a nightclub singer, second-rate gangsters, and the rest of the show’s eclectic cast find themselves aboard a London-bound ship.
The 1934 Cole Porter musical delivers big song and dance numbers, a compelling plot and plenty of hearty laughter in this show where truly anything goes. The production will run at Cecil College on Aug. 2-4 and 9-11, with showtimes at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and military members, $16 for students and Cecil College staff, and $12 for children 12 and under.
Director Lindsay Brahl said she enjoyed getting to collaborate with the cast to bring this timeless classic to life on MST’s stage.
“I always love directing. I think it’s like a puzzle. You just put it piece to piece and form a final picture at the end,” she said, adding that cast members contributed their own ideas for the show which she incorporated into the final product.
One such suggestion helped shape the blocking of the song “The Gypsy in Me,” according to Brahl.
“A lot of that was that actor just playing and we just decided to try and keep it to make that just a fun number,” she said.
Although she was familiar with some of the plot of “Anything Goes,” Brahl had never actually seen the show before directing it. However, she said she actually prefers it that way when directing, because it allows her to put her own stamp on a production.
“I don’t want to have a past show in my head,” she said. “I want to try to bring my thoughts to the table.”
Allison Graham, who plays nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, had seen a production of “Anything Goes” back when she was in high school, but she didn’t remember much of it when she was auditioning for MST’s production. Like Brahl, Graham said her relative lack of knowledge of the show actually benefited her performance as Reno.
“I kind of wanted to do my own thing with it,” Graham said. “I didn’t watch any of the Broadway versions of it or anything like that because I just kind of wanted to see what would come from me just reading the script, doing what I thought was right, obviously following the direction of Lindsay and kind of feeling out the character myself.”
One of the things Graham loves the most about getting to play Reno is the character’s sassiness.
“It’s always fun to do that because you kind of have permission to be a little snarky,” she said.
In fact, Graham said the show as a whole is very humorous — which she felt was a welcome change from MST’s last production, “Evita,” in which she played the lead in a show that she said was “very intense and dramatic.”
“This is just a lot more fun and silly and I get to dance a lot more which I love,” she said.
She added that she is grateful for the opportunity to play another lead role at MST — let alone in back-to-back shows.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind of a summer for me being able to do two really big parts, which I’ve never really gotten to do before,” she said. “I’m just grateful that the directors, music directors and our choreographers have given me the opportunity to be able to do what I love and just have fun.”
Graham’s favorite part of this show is the song “The Gypsy in Me,” which she performs with Alex Quigley, who plays Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
“It’s very silly and just super fun,” she said. “It kind of comes out of nowhere. It’s a little bit of a surprise. It’s a ton of fun to see him act over the top and kind of get to play off of that.”
Music director Steven Soltow’s favorite song of the show is “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”
“It has so much energy … It’s not the first song of the second act, but it’s like the first big song of the second act. It’s just like ‘Bang. We’re here. We’re back after intermission,’” Soltow said.
Like some of his fellow cast and crew members, Soltow wasn’t familiar with “Anything Goes” before joining this production.
But when he heard that MST would be putting it on, he knew he had to come aboard.
“I knew I wanted to do a show with a larger cast because I just like working with a large group of vocalists,” he said.
Soltow said that the music often calls for the actors to sing in four-part harmonies, and sometimes even calls for those parts to divide further for seven- or eight-part harmonies. Though that might be a challenge for some singers, Soltow said these cast members took it in stride.
“It’s sometimes hard to learn a harmony part, but I’ve been really fortunate with this group,” he said. “First rehearsal, I split everybody into parts and we had a good, even balance of all the four parts and they’ve just sounded really good from day one.”
Graham said that if theater audiences are looking for a nice laugh and colorful characters, this show should be the perfect fit.
“It’s so funny and it’s just a good time to get away and just relax and see some real characters come to life up here,” she said.