Step aboard the S.S. American as ACTS presents ‘Anything Goes’

Published 12:19 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

During the upcoming ACTS Theatre performances of “Anything Goes,” locals will board the S.S. American to follow the stories of a cast of memorable characters.

The story follows Reno Sweeny, played by Allison Schnake, and her stowaway friend Billy Crocker, played by Cameron Fultz, as they travel from New York to England on the luxury ocean liner, telling a story that explores the themes of class, status and love.

The show opens this weekend, with performances on the next two Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Director Walt Kiser – who has worked as either an actor, director and set designer and builder in nearly 150 plays – said that the musical was chosen for its music and choreography after considering several possibilities.

Email newsletter signup

“Anything Goes” was first produced in 1934 and has seen several revivals, in addition to being made into a movie three times. The production features a slate of classic broadway bops like “Anything Goes,” “All Through the Night” “Blow Gabriel Blow” “It’s De-Lovely” and “You’re The Top.”

Kiser said when the curtains close, viewers will have a beat in their heart and pep in their step.

“I enjoy musicals where the audience leaves the theatre dancing and singing on their way out of the theatre. This play makes you want to do that.”

The team has been working hard since auditions in November to bring the production together, starting with perfecting the music and choreography before practicing dialogue and acting, he said.

The design and construction of the set started even earlier. Since August,  Diki Jine, Gale Materne and Stan Morris have dedicated a significant amount of time to bring the S.S. American to life while simultaneously working on sets for other ACTS performances.

Schnake said that her character, Reno Sweeny,  is a bold nightclub singer turned evangelist.

“She is bold and brassy and not afraid to speak her mind. She and a cast of crazy characters board the SS American en route to London and chaos ensues!” she said.

She said the preparation for the upcoming performances has been fun and challenging, from set design to the “countless hours of rehearsal.”

“I think all of our feet hurt a little bit at this point!”

She is drawn to theatre because it is a place for a group of likeminded people, “those crazy, artsy actors and actresses,” to collaborate and create something beautiful.

“It is a feeling of joy and accomplishment like no other.”

Schnake has been involved in theatre since she was 13 years old when she was cast as Luisa in ACTS Theatre production of “The Fantasticks.”

“I was hooked from that point on.”

She earned her vocal performance degree from Louisiana State University and Masters in Arts Administration from College of Charleston, and has performed in shows like “Hairspray” “Chicago” and “Anything Goes” professionally. She said that Reno is a dream role that she yearned to play.

She prepared for this role by exploring human emotions that connected her to Reno.

“While Reno is a very bold and over the top character, she also goes through moments of real tenderness: her unrequited love with Billy Crocker, her up and down friendship with Moonface Martin and then, of course, falling in love anew. These are things we can all relate to and its our job as actors to bring our characters to life in a relatable way.”

Theatrical productions bring a sense of unity and beauty to the community, enriching the lives of everyone involved, she said.

“For about two hours, you get to come together, forget the outside world for a little while, and watch your neighbors share something wonderful. Theatre has such a positive impact on children, teenages and adults, exposing them to new experiences, emotions and knowledge.”

Kiser explained that there is no doubt that viewers will feel the impact of the performance.

“The audiences can expect to sit in awe as 31 of their relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers bring to life this wonderful music, excellent choreography and delightful dialogue. They will be telling themselves that the talent in the city is ‘Out of Bounds’ wonderful and will be wondering when the next opportunity to experience it will be!”

The performances on Friday, Feb. 23, Saturday, Feb. 24, Friday, March 1 and Saturday March 2 begin at 7:30 p.m. Performances on Sundays, Feb. 25 and March 3 start at 3 p.m.

General admission is $25. Seniors pay $20, students pay $15 and tickets for children 10 and under are $10.

There will be an additional performance of “Anything Goes” in conjunction with Banners at McNeese State University on Friday, March 8 in Bulber Auditorium.

All tickets can be purchased online.