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‘Anything Goes’ at LMC

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Sep. 26, 2013 | Modified: Oct. 7, 2013
‘Anything Goes’ at LMC

Ryan Tucker and Holly Knowles star as Billy and Reno, respectively, in Lees-McRae College’s production of ‘Anything Goes.’

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Fun is the number for Lees-McRae College’s production of the Cole Porter classic musical, “Anything Goes,” hitting the Hayes Auditorium stage this October.

“It’s a funny, light, feel-good show,” said director David Craven, assistant professor of performing arts at LMC.

It’s also one of Craven’s favorites, as this production marks his third time directing it.

“I just like that it’s fun, and, quite honestly, I think it’s very appropriate right now,” he said. “‘Anything Goes’ first came out in the 1930s, around the time of the Great Depression. And now, because of the recession, I think that’s why it was revived in 2011. When people aren’t feeling good about other things, an entertaining and funny show is always good to go.”

Featuring a student cast of 27, the play revolves around con artists Reno Sweeney (Holly Knowles) and Billy Crocker (Ryan Tucker). Sweeney is an evangelist-turned-nightclub singer and Crocker a lovelorn stockbroker. Sweeny learns Crocker is falling in love with an engaged debutante (Katie Gesell), and she soon falls in love with the fiancé of said debutante — a British lord (Michael Navarro). They, along with a gangster disguised as a minister (Casey Courtney), all turn up on a luxury cruise liner, and the musical shenanigans ensue.

But what makes it a classic, Craven said, is the music.

“Cole Porter was never known for his great (scripts) of his plays,” Craven said. “He was always known for the music of his plays. Debatably, some of the things I’ve read have said ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ is his most successful production, but now that ‘Anything Goes’ has been revived and is in production again, it’s hard to say.”

Whereas “Kiss Me, Kate” was written with William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” as its foundation, “Anything Goes” is an entirely original work.

“With this, they had to create a whole book on their own,” Craven said, referring to Porter and fellow writers P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. “I think it’s definitely the music and his witty dialogue and songs that make it most enjoyable.”

Audience members can expect such memorable standards as “Anything Goes,” “ I Get a Kick Out of You” and “You’re the Top” — numbers that music director Jim Taylor finds refreshing.

“We’re so used to pop and rock in our music that it’s really kind of refreshing to bring (the student actors) back to our roots of musical theater and have them sing terrific songs that are memorable and have longevity,” said Taylor, who also serves as the interim chairman of the LMC Division of Creative and Fine Arts.

The students will perform to a live band of local musicians.

“It’s not a lot of big choral numbers as you usually get in musicals, but rather a lot of duets and solos,” Taylor said. “They certainly all have Cole Porter’s particular flavor. He’s a very clever lyricist and musician, and all his stuff is just really good for the students.”

Craven said the students have been enjoying the experience, and Taylor’s convinced that audience members will find plenty to like, as well.

“I like its simplicity,” he said. “It’s just a really wonderful, simple love story with some great twists and great characters who are creating or getting themselves into all sorts of trouble, and we get to watch them get out of it. You can really sink your teeth into it quickly and enjoy it.”

Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3, 4 and 5 and 2 p.m. Oct. 6, and all productions take place at Hayes Auditorium on Main Street in Banner Elk. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $5 for students (K-12 and college with valid ID) and are available only at the door, starting one hour prior to show time. All seating is general admission.

Cast & Crew

Cast members include Holly Knowles, Ryan Tucker, Katie Gesell, Michael Navarro, Casey Courtney, Laren Evans, Peggy Wasmund, John Brett, Robin Olson, Randi Sowards, Zane Tarkington, Anna Ashburn, Ethan Henry, Hayden Moses, Michael Waterfield, Wyatt Neff, Chloe Boggs, Jasmine Foreman, Kelsey Wypych, Andrew Duggins, Corbin Pickett, Jourdon Hannah, Sarah Melton, Schuyler J. Carson, Lucas Childress and John Michael Sloan.

David Craven directs, and Jim Taylor is music director. Danielle Curtis is set and lighting designer, and Drew Wallace is assistant technical director and sound designer. Michael Hannah is costume designer, Stephanie Deal Bengtson is choreographer, and Pam Joslin oversees publicity, the program and the box office.

Additional Images

Ryan Tucker and Holly Knowles star as Billy and Reno, respectively, in Lees-McRae College’s production of ‘Anything Goes.’
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Ryan Tucker and Holly Knowles star in Lees-McRae College’s production of ‘Anything Goes,' running Oct. 3 to 6 in Banner Elk.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

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