In Room 414, Anything Goes

Thespians stage upbeat winter musical despite pandemic restrictions

Theater students involved in the Thespian Society had a tough act to follow after last year’s production of Cabaret, which left members of the audience in tears and in awe of the play’s powerful message of unity through diversity. This year, the cast, crew and pit all worked to put on a production like no other. 

The production of Anything Goes was difficult for multiple reasons, including quarantine regulations, actors playing multiple roles, rehearsals being limited to Zoom meetings for the first half of the production process, along with stage blocking and choreography adjustments being made to accommodate for social distancing requirements.

But despite these obstacles, for the cast, crew, and pit, the show must go on.

 Anything Goes is a lighthearted, upbeat show that tells the heartfelt love story of lost businessman Billy Crocker and debutante Hope Harcourt. The duo are trapped on a cruise boat headed from New York to England with powerful showgirl Reno Sweeney amid the humorous antics of gangster public enemy number one, Moonface Martin. 

In a year like no other, the musical has been an outlet where students can express themselves and pour themselves into their characters. The director of the show, Mrs. Winingham selected Anything Goes as a relief from the world people have lived in for the past year: a year of Covid-19 and uncertainty. 

“…I just wanted a show that was silly and meaningless and fun… Cabaret last year was really intense for a reason, and I was not going to do that this year,” Winingham said. 

Because the show is jazzy and upbeat, students have the flexibility to add to their characters and creativity when it comes to acting, costuming, lighting and design. 

Shelby Shuster (12) has been a Thespian since her freshman year, but as a senior she decided to take a role off stage as the student director of the musical, working alongside Mrs. Winingham. As the student director, she takes on different responsibilities of directing and blocking scenes, taking notes during rehearsals and constructively critiquing the cast and crew. 

“One of the coolest things about this year is that our theme for Anything Goes is a celebration of theater and a fun lighthearted approach to the show,” Shuster said. 

How the audience viewed the show also changed this year. Social distancing regulations required the production to be live streamed, although there were a limited number of predetermined audience members allowed to watch from the auditorium. Those planning to view the show online still had to purchase tickets for the livestream.