NMU Presents 'Anything Goes' Musical

"Anything Goes" graphic

Northern Michigan University Theatre & Dance will present “Anything Goes” April 11-13 and 18-20 in Forest Roberts Theatre. The Golden Age musical is set in the 1930s aboard the ocean liner S.S. American. It is directed and choreographed by assistant professor Kristen Beth Ludwig, who was an ensemble member and understudy for the lead role of Reno Sweeney in the 2011 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival at the Roundabout Theatre. She is now sharing her qualified insights with students involved in NMU's production.

“I was one of the youngest people in the cast and I was never supposed to go on as Reno Sweeney,” said Ludwig, whose stage surname is Williams. “Sutton Foster was cast in the role and behind her were two covers; I was the second. Then a perfect storm happened in December of 2011. The first cover went on vacation and Sutton got horribly ill, so it was either put me on or cancel the show. So I went on and it was kind of wonderful because nobody expected me to be any good. I don't know that there will be another show I'll get to work on at NMU that I have this much experience with and know so well.”

Senior Beck Piepszak of Troy portrays nightclub singer/evangelist Reno Sweeney in NMU's production. She selected Northern because her high school theater director, Michael Sheldon, graduated from the program and highly recommended it. When NMU debuted its musical theater concentration, Piepszak was among the first to enroll.

According to the play's synopsis, Reno is enroute from New York to England. Her pal Billy Crocker has stowed away to be near his love, Hope Harcourt, but the problem is Hope is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Joining this love triangle on board the luxury liner are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, and his sidekick-in-crime, Erma. With the help of some elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors and good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope's heart.

“I found out this was one of my mom's favorite musicals and Reno's a fun character to play because she's got a scandalous way about her, but she also has a heart of gold,” Piepszak said. “Reno is a very good person, even though sometimes it can seem like she's a little promiscuous. Overall, she just loves helping her friends and she loves being involved in everything. It's been a dream working with Kristen, not only because she played the same role in New York, but because of the energy and passion she brings to every rehearsal.”

The Cole Porter music featured in “Anything Goes” has stood the test of time. While the basic plot structure has also remained intact, Ludwig said the script has been updated with each revival, including the latest staged in 2022 in London.

“So we are working with the newest script, but the orchestrations and dance arrangements are from the 1988 Lincoln Center revival with Patti LuPone,” Ludwig added. “That combination has been both really fun and really challenging.”

Showtimes are at 7:30, with an additional 1 p.m. Theatre for All sensory friendly matinee on Saturday, April 13. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $15 for NMU faculty/staff, military and seniors 60+; $13 for students 18 and under; and $5 for NMU students with ID. They can be purchased at nmu.universitytickets.com.

Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director