The St. Mary Catholic High School Fine Arts Program is offering a filmed production of “Anything Goes” this weekend, March 12-14.
The musical, originally performed in 1934, is set aboard the S.S. American, which is traveling from New York to England. Billy Crocker, a young Wall Street assistant, tries to win over the love of Hope Harcourt. However, Hope is engaged to her bumbling yet haplessly charming fiancée Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. With the help of famous nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and public enemy no. 13, Moonface Martin, Billy tries to break Hope and Lord Evelyn up.
Billy Crocker will be played by senior Samuel Pingel (filmed version) and junior Brody Adams (live for families), while senior Lauren Meyer (film) and sophomore Lainey Becker (live) were casted for the Reno Sweeney role.
Hayden Kraus (’11), SMCHS Fine Arts director, believes “Anything Goes” is a perfect switch-up for the seniors before they graduate.
“When we pick a show, we want to make sure we are looking at the four-year experience, not just the single year,” Kraus said. “Last year we did a show that was written in 2009. A few years ago, we did a show that was written in the 80’s, and Anything Goes was written in 1934. They are getting to experience the different composers, writers and authors that are putting these shows together.”
Kraus iterates that the students seem to thoroughly enjoy “Anything Goes”, and they were the ones who recommended the musical.
“My favorite part about ‘Anything Goes’ has to be the story and the music,” Pingel said. “With all the amazing characters in the show, you really become connected with what is happening on stage.”
Revival of “Anything Goes” one decade later
10 years has passed since the SMCHS Fine Arts Program has performed “Anything Goes”. Kraus played Billy Crocker in the 2011 performance. For that reason, he did not want to choose the musical, so it did not seem he was doing it for his own sake. However, the students still encouraged their director to choose “Anything Goes”.
“Lauren (Meyer) was one of the students who said, ‘I want to do “Anything Goes”. I know a little about it and I know the music.’,” Kraus said. “She had recommended it and rallied the students to push it forward.”
Pingel felt a sense of pride to play the same role that Kraus did 10 years earlier.
“The last time they performed this show, I was 8 years old. And now it is the new generation’s turn to step up and take the lead. I thought that was a very special moment and gave an even greater special connection to our director.”
Kraus is not the only connection to the 2011 production. Emily Lowney (’11), 2011 cast member, is the production assistant while Cliff Uilenbroek (’83) built the sets for both shows.
Although the 2011 production is special for him and he does not want to take anything away from that cast, Kraus views the current production as better in almost every facet.
“I had a blast doing it in high school, and we all did. But we are just leaps and bounds from where we used to be. That is because we have the students who put so much energy in building the program. We did not have our own theatre. We would rehearse in the cold bus garage where we were building our sets.”
The students are grateful for the Jane Bergstrom Fine Arts Entertainment Center, as it is a better facility than what was offered 10 years ago.
“Having something like the fine arts center to perform in is truly a blessing,” Meyer said. “During practices, we have all the equipment and props that we would ever need during a show, so it makes the transition into dress rehearsals and show week much easier.”
More Than a Musical
Performing “Anything Goes”, and the theatre department in whole, allows many students to create bonds with teachers and peers that they will share for a lifetime.
“I found a family who I wouldn’t change for the world,” Pingel said. “The theatre program at SMCS gave me so many opportunities and memories and will forever be grateful for that.”
Meyer also believes these opportunities would not be possible without Kraus.
“Mr. Kraus has been an amazing director from start to finish…From the very beginning, Mr. Kraus has been extremely encouraging and has always pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and grow as a performer.”
At the end of the day, the seniors are very fortunate to be able to perform together one last time, especially after losing other experiences due to COVID-19.
“Being a senior, there were many things that we had all looked forward to this school year,” Meyer said. “However, many of those plans had to change. ‘Anything Goes’ allowed me to spend time with my friends and experience the feeling of adrenaline that comes with performing one more time before graduating.”
The filmed performance of “Anything Goes” will be available on demand to watch anytime throughout the weekend. To purchase streaming tickets, visit SMCSFineArts.org.