Director Laura Wonsala has never directed “Anything Goes” before, though she has performed in it. It’s similar for co-producer and actor Allen Cross, who played a lead role back in September Song’s 2007 iteration of the show.
“I tend to lean towards shows that have a lot of humor in them, That’s sort of my style,” Wonsola said. “Anything Goes” was one of the first shows she suggested to the producers for this season.
There are nearly 40 performers in the cast, and most roles require the triple threat of singing, dancing and acting.
“This version has a lot more dancing in it. A lot more dancing,” Cross said.
Because the group is only able to move into the space at the Carroll Arts Center about two weeks before opening night, a challenge for the cast and crew is to assemble the set and get acclimated to it in a short amount of time.
“It’s a boat, so we’ve got an upper deck. … People have to get used to now climbing stairs and being up high,” Wonsola said.
The show is perfect “if you’re looking for a night out when you can just laugh,” Wonsala said. “The talent alone really speaks for itself. You don’t want to miss the talent that Carroll County has to offer.”
Actor Michael Livingston, who plays the oft-intoxicated stockbroker Elisha Whitney, said the production is “Constant jokes, funny lines … very few long scenes. It’s like boom here, boom there. Fast paced I think even for being a long show.”
He answered a casting call a few years ago looking for more male actors, and after that he “just fell in love,” and has been in five September Song shows since.
For this character, he said: “It’s funny, I actually am a financial adviser, so i’m used to stocks and bonds. But as far as drinking, I don’t drink, so that was a stretch.”
As it got closer to show time, he got more engrossed in the 1930s era of the storyline. “Especially once you got … into costume, it really started to feel like we really are on a ship and back in those days,” he said.
Actor Casey Golden, who plays mobster moll Erma Latour, developed a comically thick New Jersey accent for the role, which has amused her family.
“My kids are like, ‘Mom, your voice sounds so weird. Why are you talking like that?” she said laughing. They like to sing the songs and repeat some of the lines from the show at home.
“To play someone so different from you, that’s the beauty of acting,” Golden said. “You get to kind of be someone you’re not and get a glimpse into their lifestyle. So it’s weird, and fun, and I’ve had a really great time figuring out who Erma is.”
The music and humor in “Anything Goes” is timeless, she said. “It’s hilarious. I’m backstage laughing and I’ve seen the show hundreds of times all summer long.”
Musical Director Diane Jones said: “Musically, Cole Porter was a genius. This genre is just typical of him and the age. So when people come, they’re seeing an historical snapshot as far as the dances and the costumes and everything. It really just transports you back to what was the good stuff going on in the theater then.”