New Performing Arts Center hosts first musical production in theatre

Trends Reporter

The Texas State community has the opportunity to embrace the eclectic cast and namesake S.S. American of “Anything Goes” Tuesday night for one last showing of the Department of Theatre and Dance’s musical.

“Anything Goes” is the first musical production to be showcased in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre as part of the new Performing Arts Center that opened in March. The weeklong nightly showcase will wrap up Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

The musical takes place on an ocean liner as it sails from New York to London in the 1930s. It follows the central character, Billy Crocker, as a stowaway who has followed the woman he is in love with, Hope Harcourt, on board. Along the way, Billy comes in contact with the ship’s many other eccentric passengers, and various antics quickly unfold that keep the audience constantly enraptured in musical hilarity.

The Broadway title was chosen to open the theatre because of its flashiness and funny and uplifting story line, said Kaitlin Hopkins, director and head of the Musical Theatre Department. She hoped choosing such a show would attract a large audience, and it did.

“We sold out most of the run with audiences coming from San Antonio, Austin, New Braunfels, really all over,” Hopkins said. “It was great that it had such a wide appeal.”

With a 28-person cast and an additional 40- to 50-person crew, the show was a challenge to coordinate. Preliminary work began on the musical more than a year ago in terms of casting, set design and costumes, Hopkins said. Rehearsals ran a full 10 weeks before the opening of the show, and the last two were devoted to the slow incorporation of the performance’s technical aspects. The final four nights before opening were dress rehearsals with everything including lights, sound, sets, props, musicians and costumes.

There was the creation of an entire scene shop, which opened up new possibilities for set design and construction. The set for “Anything Goes” consisted of a two-story ocean liner ship with spiral staircases and moveable parts that rotated to expose different areas of the ship.

Tyler Larson, sophomore performance and production major, helped with carpentry on set and building the wooden ship that served as the main set piece for the show. Larson voluntarily devoted two months of everyday work to help build the ship along with 12 other carpentry members.

The main difference he saw between working in the old building in comparison to the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre was the way the set pieces were moved, Larson said.

“In the old building, we would set the frame down and build from the ground up,” Larson said. “In the new building, we build in the shop and then move it onto the stage.”

Larson said some pieces would take 10 to 12 people to move because they weighed anywhere between 500 and 600 pounds. The most difficult part was constructing the spiral staircases since he had never built anything like that before, Larson said.

After putting in long hours to produce a quality production, she hopes audience members will be motivated to come back and see future shows, Hopkins said.