‘Anything Goes’ Offers Hijinks on the High Seas at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre

MSMT’s production of Porter’s Jazz Age classic offers virtuoso tap numbers, musical standards and veteran MSMT performers, July 11-28.

 Tuesday, July 9, 2019 08:53 AM

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Photography by Ken Ek

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre rounds out the 2019 season with an all-star production of Cole Porter’s classic Jazz Age musical “Anything Goes.” The show features dance routines by acclaimed tap teacher and choreographer Shelley Oliver, as well as performances by some audience-favorite Summer Music Theatre performers.

The show runs July 11-28 in Muhlenberg’s Baker Theatre. Tickets and information are available at muhlenberg.edu/smt and 484-664-3333.

The cast features Mia Scarpa in the starring role of Reno Sweeney. An Actors’ Equity performer, Scarpa has appeared previously on the MSMT stage, to great acclaim, as Dolly in 2015’s “Hello, Dolly!” and as Mama Rose in 2016’s “Gypsy.” Also starring are MSMT veterans Jarrod Yuskauskas, as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (“My Fair Lady,” “Gypsy,” “Hello, Dolly!” “Spamalot”) and Bob Fahringer as Moonface Martin (many MSMT credits, most recently “My Fair Lady”), as well as Equity Guest Artist Jim VanValen as Elisha Whitney.

Acclaimed tap choreographer Shelley Oliver choreographed the production. A longtime member of the Muhlenberg dancey faculty, Oliver has appeared internationally with some of the legends of the tap world, including Savion Glover and Gregory Hines. She is a founding member of Manhattan Tap and the Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers, among many other credits on the stage, on television and in the classroom.

MSMT founding artistic director Charles Richter directs the production. Bryan L. Wade provides musical direction. Tony Award nominee Michael McDonald designed costumes. John Raley designed the towering cruise ship set, with lighting design by Gertjan Houben and sound design by Ian Scot.

Cole Porter’s classic Jazz Age musical “Anything Goes” stands among the most beloved of the 1930s, featuring timeless standards like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-lovely,” “Friendship,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and the title song, an anthem of the age. The show helped to establish Porter as one of Broadway’s all-time great songwriters.

A delightfully silly tale of love, deception and hijinks on the high seas, “Anything Goes” concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13, “Moonface” Martin, aid Billy in his quest to win Hope.

“This show is like a vacation,” says director Charles Richter. “Cole Porter’s whimsical libretto conjures nostalgia for oceans you’ve never crossed.”

The show features a book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman, after an original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Porter wrote the music and lyrics.

“The songs in this show are so elegant they leave me breathless,” Richter says. “It has some of the most beautiful lyrics and music ever heard on Broadway. The story becomes a wonderful frame for an astonishing range of magnificent songs.”

“Anything Goes” opens Thursday, July 11, and runs through July 28 in the Baker Theatre. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees the first Saturday and every Sunday.

Tickets are $35 for the first four performances of each show, $41 thereafter, with discounts for seniors, students, youth, and groups of 15 or more.

Tickets are available at muhlenberg.edu/smt, or at the box office at 484-664-3333, Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg College is a highly selective, private, four-year residential college located in Allentown, PA., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, sciences, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.