JC performing ‘Anything Goes’The Jamestown College Theatre Department is offering a step back in time with the musical comedy “Anything Goes,” scheduled to take the stage Nov. 5-7. In past years productions done by the college, such as “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Westside Story,” have been more contemporary. This musical was a hit Broadway show in the 1930s and presents a very different style, one that fit its era.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown College Theatre Department is offering a step back in time with the musical comedy “Anything Goes,” scheduled to take the stage Nov. 5-7.
In past years productions done by the college, such as “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Westside Story,” have been more contemporary. This musical was a hit Broadway show in the 1930s and presents a very different style, one that fit its era.
“This is a real typical musical comedy of the 1930s,” said Mike McIntyre, director. “It’s meant to be fun, with pretty broad characters who are in situations slightly over the top. I wanted something from that era and I settled on this because it’s hard to beat as a representative of the style. ”
Music and lyrics are by Cole Porter and older members of the audience will certainly recognize many of the classic hit songs of “Anything Goes.” Tunes such as “You’re the Top,” “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” are among Porter’s most memorable.
The musical comedy did get a bit of updating in the 1980s, McIntyre said, which “makes it a little more contemporary.” But it remains essentially the same, with the plot part of the style of the times.
“The characters will do just about anything to stay out of trouble, which gets them in more trouble,” McIntyre said. “It’s a high-energy show and almost never slows down.”
Not only will young audience members get a taste of 1930s clothing, behavior and slang, they’ll see some different choreography. Tap dancing, a popular dance style of the time, is included in this show. Because of that, choreographer Sue Anderson took on two students, Rachel Braff and Serena Christianson, to help train the dancers.
“They have a strong dance background,” McIntyre said.
In contemporary musicals, the music and lyrics are written to fit the story. McIntyre said that wasn’t true of musicals in the era of radio. And Broadway musicals of the time didn’t become movies. So, Porter wrote his songs and the musical’s story was created around what were already popular tunes. During the last 40 years the Broadway musical has been created in reverse — most music and lyrics have been written to fit the story line.
“Today Broadway music isn’t necessarily what is popular outside it,” he said. “One of the things that routinely happened in that era, the songs weren’t particularly integrated with the story line, plot or characters. They would lift a song and drop it into another show or movie.”
In the 1930s sheet music was a popular way for songs to reach the listening public. There was always someone who could play the piano and bring the hit tunes to town.
“The music was in sheet music so people could entertain themselves,” McIntyre said.
For students so far removed from the era of sheet music, the Great Depression and 1930s slang, this musical comedy has been an interesting challenge. However, McIntyre said, everyone’s having fun with it. As with the movies of the 1930s and 1940s, he said, the acting style is “a bit overdone.”
“It’s not often you get to encourage the students to push it to extremes and go a little crazier,” he said. “But these are big and dynamic characters, they need to be a bit overdone.”
The story of “Anything Goes” takes place primarily aboard the ship, S.S. American. McIntyre said the only other set is a nightclub scene. The character Billy Crocker stows away to pursue his lady love, Hope Harcourt, who is less than enthusiastic about her engagement to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Crocker is assisted in his pursuit by a showgirl pal and a two-bit gangster.
“In this version the British love interest is a rather stuffy character taking notes on American slang,” McIntyre said. “He’s trying to get the hang of it so the slang of the era is highlighted.”
All performances of “Anything Goes” begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Reiland Fine Arts Center’s DeNault Auditorium. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved by calling the Jamestown College Box Office at 252-3467, ext. 2435, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453
or by e-mail at email@example.com