‘Anything Goes’ comes to MPAC Nov. 18-21

Belmont’s musical theatre program presents Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” which will run from Nov. 18-21 in MPAC. The musical, which takes place in the 1920’s, debuted on Broadway in 1934.

“We chose our seasons based on several factors,” said Director David Shamburger.  “One, of course, is the audience response and what we think the audience will respond to best.  We want to give them something that they will like, that is entertaining.

Another important factor that goes into the decision-making process for which show to produce is the musical theatre’s students.

Rather than exposing students to only one genre or group of shows, the directors attempt to “give students the experience of as many different eras [they] can,” Shamburger said.  “We realized we hadn’t done anything that puts us into the early 20th century, early Cole Porter, so we thought this would be a good way to introduce them to different styles.”

“Anything Goes” has somewhat difficult songs to learn, said junior Casey Hebbel. “The hardest part has been the lyrics, the lyrics are very quick and clever,” she said, “We are fortunate enough to have great music training, but memorizing all of the lyrics can be challenging.”

Regardless of the composer, Shamburger said all songs “have the same goal: to tell the story, to convey some kind of perspective, character perspective.”

“I think maybe that’s where that comes from, is because it is of a style that we don’t see much of anymore.  It’s very stylized,” he said.

One aspect that sets this show apart from other shows Belmont has put on in the past is the dance.

“It’s the biggest dance show since I’ve been here, and the biggest I’ve been involved with,” Hebbel said.  “[At Belmont] we are so focused on music most of the time, so it’s pushing us to focus on our dance and showcase those talents.”

Junior Caleigh Alessi is playing the role of Reno Sweeney, the “part-time evangelist [who] sort of pulls everything together.”

According to Alessi, “Anything Goes” is also different for Belmont and different from other shows in general because it evokes a “different feeling and flow,” she said.  “Compared to most other shows where first comes the story and then the music, with this show the story was written around the music.”

Shamburger agreed. “I love the music, I love the tap, I love the production, I love it all,” he said.  But what makes it unique is that, “many of these [songs] were written as popular songs themselves. They weren’t written for the show, but utilized.”

Alessi sees parallels between Belmont and the musical.

“Everyone wants everyone to be happy.” Alessi said of the show, “They will go out of their way to help each other, and that reflects Belmont,” she said. “I fall in love the more we do it.  I find something else I find to love, something I ever saw before.”

As for the show in general, cast members said it is not only a unique show with fun music, but also is a “a fast story that’s very nostalgic,” Shamburger said.  “It is a light-hearted romp through Cole Porter’s repertoire.”

The show is just a good time, Hebbel said.  “It’s so much fun, I hope people come and have fun with us.”

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