ANYTHING GOES sets sail at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre

Published 11:36 am Monday, May 22, 2023

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By Pam Johnson
Contributed Content
Join all the fun at the JRT aboard the SS American in the Cole Porter musical comedy, Anything Goes. This hilarious love story comes complete with singing sailors, dancing hoodlums, star-crossed lovers, and a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Topping it off are some of Porter’s greatest hits including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” and the title song, “Anything Goes.”

“I have loved Cole Porter’s music for many years,” said Director Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt. “His lyrics are incredibly witty and sophisticated. The way that he combined his music and lyrics makes his music unforgettable. Everyone will fall in love with the music, the characters, and the story of this show. It’s D’Lovely!”

The story follows Billy Crocker, an assistant to a Wall Street tycoon, who instantly falls in love with Hope Harcourt, a wealthy debutante. Billy stows away on her cruise ship sailing from New York to London, and he employs the help of Reno Sweeney (a nightclub singer) and Moonface Martin (a gangster) to break up Hope’s engagement to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, her stuffy Englishman fiancé, who is also on board.

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“Anything Goes is a unique blend of slapstick comedy and meticulously crafted situational comedy,” said Lucas Schmidt, who portrays Billy Crocker. “Despite having ridiculous humor, it contains some of Cole Porter’s most beautiful and witty songs. I hope the audience will forget the very seriousness of life while laughing either with us or at our expense on stage – either is just fine with me.”

The storyline is humorous, but the colorful array of characters is what truly makes this show a standout comedy.

“My character,” continued Schmidt, “is impulsive and reckless, but this also makes him adaptable and fun. He’s a bit of a double-edged sword. I like his sense of adventure and persistence despite a bunch of trouble.”

Billy’s trusted friend Reno Sweeney is played by Brittany Whitson. “I admire (and am slightly jealous of) Reno,” said Whitson, “for her unwavering self-confidence, boldness, and the way she can command a room. She is a very traditional ‘bold and brassy’ character. I also love how loyal she is to those she considers her friends.”

Also on board is Public Enemy Number 13, Moonface Martin. “I love that Moonface is just a lovable ‘bad guy,’” said Mike Musick, who portrays Moonface. “He’s not near as bad as he thinks he is. After all, he’s not Public Enemy Number 1. He’s number 13. He’s really a gangster with a heart.”

Then there’s pompous Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, played by Joe Gumina, who stated, “Evelyn has some of the show’s funniest lines, and his interactions with the other characters often result in some hilarious moments that are a joy to perform. The role, however, has not been without challenge. There is a secret, wild side to Evelyn that expresses itself through dance in the second half of the play. Because I am not a skilled dancer, bringing that part of Evelyn to life on stage has presented a fun challenge.”

Interwoven with this lineup of zany characters are comical disguises, mistaken identities, well-meaning antics, and miscommunication. But somehow, it all comes together into a fun, eccentric, and first-rate adventure.

“Our patrons are in for a treat!!” said Musick. “They’re going to come in after a long day or week of maybe things in life not exactly going right, and they’re going to be amazed by the music and dancing and laugh-out-loud comedy that is Anything Goes.”

Gumina added, “The show’s overall message of embracing life and enjoying the journey is one that is especially resonant in today’s world, where we are all looking for a bit of levity and joy amidst the challenges of daily life. Overall, I believe our patrons will find Anything Goes to be a delightful and engaging theatrical experience that they will remember fondly for years to come.”

This production is directed and music directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, choreographed by Jessica Shelton, assistant directed by Krista Wharton, and stage managed by Mary Wallen. Rounding out the cast are Travis Acree, Dave Bernhardt, Brenden Christie, Shannon Cook, Suzanne Cook, Kelcie Cornett, Alyssa Curtis, Cleo Farr, Janette Gaines, Ryan Gray, Christy van Greunen, Angela Grigsby, Robby Grigsby, Shawn Hale, Michael Hickie, Rebecca Honeycutt, Joseph Hunter, Andee Klusman, Rebekah Knisley, Bennett Little, Mandy Mangiacotti, Mason McReynolds, Lee Mitchell-Harris, Sarah Robinson, Jessica Shelton, Chad Simpson, Olivia Smith, James Templin, Alix Thompson, and Hannah Grace Wilcox.

Sponsors are Lance Klosterman and Heather Gilreath, Bob and Brenda Phillips, Thea Terluver, Guy Mauldin and Bob Fuller, Pamela and Dan Pope, and Sonia King.

Shows run Thursdays through Sundays, May 26 – June 11. Tickets are $18 general admission, $16 for students and seniors. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or go online to The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough.