'Anything Goes' Makes a Splash at the Wharton Center

'Anything Goes' will be at the Wharton Center, October 16-21.

'Anything Goes' Makes a Splash at the Wharton Center

By Stefanie Pohl. CREATED Oct 16, 2012

Talk about opening the Broadway at Wharton Center season with a splash - Anything Goes, the classic Cole Porter musical that has enchanted audiences for nearly 80 years, anchors in East Lansing from Tuesday, October 16th through Sunday, October 21st.

Anything Goes is the 1934 musical comedy about the lovers, liars, and clowns on a transatlantic cruise. When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention head out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love, proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise, and some good old-fashioned blackmail.

Tickets are available at the Wharton Center website, as well as by calling 517-432-2000 or 1-800-WHARTON.

East Lansing is only the second stop for the touring production, which recently wrapped up in Cleveland after two weeks of performances and tech work. Erich Bergen, who stars as Billy Crocker, tells us that being in East Lansing feels like the true first stop of the tour.

"We had the luxury of learning the set and learning the mechanics [in Cleveland]. My favorite thing is that we're using a local orchestra in every city that we go to. So to hear 18 local musicians is just fantastic."

Joyce Chittick, a veteran of the Broadway revival production in New York, plays Erma in the traveling production of Anything Goes. She shares Bergen's sentiment when it comes to the use of local musicians.

"In every city that we go to, there is going to be a new band - with the exception of drums, piano, and the conductor. In every city, it's going to sound different to us, and it's going to feel like an opening night. We're going to have these amazing local musicians interpreting this delicious Cole Porter music."

Many audience members will be surprised that while they might not be familiar with the show Anything Goes, there will certainly be a lot of familiar music.

"It plays like a Cole Porter greatest hits show," says Bergen.

That recognition is something the actors in the show enjoy experiencing along with the audience.

"This music is from 1934. It's not necessarily that people know these songs by heart, but they'll realize they all seem familiar," Bergen adds. "I love the fact that audiences do come in, and leave going 'Oh I love that song. My parents got married to that song.' We hear all of these different stories, and I do love that."

Despite its age, Bergen says this Anything Goes production is one that modern audiences of all ages can enjoy.

"Broadway has been trying to tap into this younger audience by doing things that are edgy or dark. Some of these shows work, and some don't. But people across the country don't want to sit through this dark, edgy thing. So when Anything Goes came back, people showed up in droves to see it. It spoke volumes about what people wanted to see. And we see every age in the audience."

For the younger generations familiar with the show from high school and local productions to the older generations who grew up on the music, Anything Goes is relatable to each age group.

It's also the fun and liveliness of the show that Bergen and Chittick see as something which was escapist back in the tough times of the early 1930s, and a happy dose of something society could use today.

"People just leave with grins from ear to ear," says Chittick. "This is the happy pill you need right now, in an election year and with the state of the economy. This is the show that will help you forget your troubles for a few hours, and give you hope that things will be okay. We all need a good laugh, we all need the arts in our life. It does sustain our soul, and uplift us."

You won't have to leave dry land for an uplifting good time with the cast of Anything Goes and the classic music of Cole Porter.

See it beginning today, October 16th - October 21st at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan State University.

Showtimes and ticket information can be found on the Wharton Center website.