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Rachel York Will Star as Nightclub Singer Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes” at DPAC March 19-24

Rachel York (center) stars as Reno Sweeney in the Roundabout Theatre Company's tour of its Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of "Anything Goes" (photo by Joan Marcus)

Rachel York (center) stars as Reno Sweeney in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s tour of its
Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Anything Goes” (photo by Joan Marcus)

The Durham Performing Arts Center will present the vivacious national tour of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony Award®-winning 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, starring Rachel York as evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, on March 19-24 in its 2,700-seat, state-of-the-art theater in the American Tobacco District in downtown Durham, NC. The revival opened on the Great White Way on April 7, 2011 in the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, where it played for 521 performances before closing on July 8, 2012.

The Associated Press saluted the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes as “so delightful, so delicious, so de-lovely!”; and The New York Times called it “a zesty new revival with knockout numbers and white-hot dancing.” So, it is not surprising that Anything Goes earned nine 2011 Tony nominations, and won three Tonys — for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Choreography (Kathleen Marshall), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney) — plus the 2011 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical.

Anything Goes features the magnificent music and lyrics the late, great Cole Porter (1891-1964). In addition to the zesty title tune, the show’s spectacular score includes some of Porter’s greatest hits, including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Friendship,” “It’s De-Lovely,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” The script combines the original book by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, plus Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, with a new book written by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman for the 1987 Broadway revival.

Born Rachel Lemanski on Aug. 7, 1971 in Orlando, FL, national-tour headliner Rachel York has appeared on Broadway as Mallory Kingsley in City of Angels, Fantine in Les Misérables, Norma Cassidy in Victor/Victoria, Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Miss Fancy in Sly Fox, and Christine in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The critically acclaimed 41-year-old stage and screen actress, singer, and comedienne has also starred in the national tours of Kiss Me, Kate (2001) as Lilli Vanessi/Kate; Camelot (2007) as Guenevere; and 101 Dalmatians Musical (2009) as Cruella DeVil. Rachel York also played the title role in the 2003 CBS Television movie Lucy: The Lucille Ball Story.

In addition to Rachel York as Reno Sweeney, the current national tour of Anything Goes stars Josh Franklin as Reno’s old friend, runaway Wall Street broker Billy Crocker, who falls in love at first sight with American heiress Hope Harcourt (Alex Finke) and stows away on the London-bound ocean liner, the S.S. American. Billy and Hope’s fellow passengers include Fred Applegate as “Public Enemy Number 13” Moonface Martin; Edward Staudenmayer as Hope Harcourt’s well-heeled but stodgy British fiancé Sir Evelyn Oakleigh; Sandra Shipley as her domineering mother Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt; Joyce Chittick as Moonface Martin’s sidekick Erma; Dennis Kelly as Billy’s boss Wall Street financier Elisha J. Whitney; Chuck Wagner as the ship’s Captain; Jeff Brooks as its Purser; Gary Lindemann as the Right Rev. Bishop Henry T. Dobson; and Vincent Rodriguez III and Marcus Shane as Luke and John, two recent Chinese converts to Christianity.

“It’s great to step back into the role of Billy Crocker on tour,” says Josh Franklin, who was a member of the original company of the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes and an understudy for Billy Crocker. He adds, “The [tour] cast is really wonderful…. Rachel York is very sassy and sexy and brassy as Reno Sweeney. She has a Mae West take on that role.

“I’ve seen Fred Applegate[, who plays third-rate gangster Moonface Martin,] in a bunch of shows in New York, and I was a fan of his before working with him. He has great comic timing,” claims Josh Franklin.

Franklin notes, “Alex Finke, who plays Hope Harcourt, is right out of college and extremely talented. She’s a great dancer, a great singer, and a great actress — and easy to fall in love with!

“The ensemble is really wonderful too,” Franklin exclaims. “There’s a nine-minute tap number at the end of Act I [“Anything Goes”] that gets the audience up on their feet!”

He adds, “The score is music that people know and love — and have for years. [Anything Goes] is just a really good time at the theater.”

Josh Franklin would know. He calls the Big Apple home. On Broadway, he has performed in the ensemble and understudied Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde (2007-08); Vince Fontaine, Danny Zuko, and Teen Angel in Grease (2007-09), Billy Crocker in Anything Goes (2011-12), and Sam Wheat in Ghost the Musical (2012). He also played Four Seasons songwriter Bob Gaudio in the first national tour of Jersey Boys, which Broadway Series South brought to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium for four weeks in June and July in 2009.

So, how does the national tour of Anything Goes differ from the Broadway revival? “It’s not much different at all,” claims Josh Franklin, who has performed in both the Broadway revival and the tour. He adds, “Obviously, the cast is different. The tour cast members bring its own timing and personalities to their roles.” But, Franklin notes, that the tour has the same sets the same costumes, and the same director and choreographer as the award-winning 2011 Broadway revival.

The creative team for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s national tour of Anything Goes includes Tony-winning Broadway director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, music director Jay Alger, original scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Martin Pakledinaz, lighting designer Howell Binkley, and sound designer Brian Ronan. The show also features additional orchestrations by Bill Elliot.

Billy Crocker’s immediate crush on beautiful debutante Hope Harcourt and impulsive decision to follow her aboard the S.S. American, and stow away in hopes of courting her on the ship is the straw that stirs the drink in Anything Goes; and 31-year-old Colorado Springs, CO native Josh Franklin relishes the opportunity to be the center of attention as Billy and to assume a variety of disguises so Billy can escape the attention of the ship’s crew, Hope’s overbearing mom, her diffident fiancé and, last but not least, his own boss, who’s also on board the S.S. American!

“I get to do a lot of fun character stuff,” confesses Josh Franklin, who earned a BFA degree from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. He adds, “It’s real challenge as an actor to speak with different accents and pretend to be different people.

“I [also] dance quite a bit in the show, and that took a lot of work,” says Franklin. “I’m used to singing pop music [– indeed, he has just released a self-titled album of his own compositions, produced by Grammy Award® winner Peter Wade –] but the score of Anything Goes is a lot of jazz and show tunes.

“The show is two-and-a-half hours long, and I rarely leave the stage” notes Josh Franklin. “It’s a challenge to do eight times a week, but it’s a welcome challenge.”

Durham Performing Arts Center presents ANYTHING GOES, starring Rachel York as Reno Sweeney at 7:30 p.m. March 19-21, 8 p.m. March 22, 2 and 8 p.m. March 23, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 24 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco District).

TICKETS: $42.50-$111.00 (including fees), except $17.50 Student Rush Tickets.

BOX OFFICE:

DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), , or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/how_to_buy_tickets.

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1732681.

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/group_services/broadway_group_pricing.

NOTE: DPAC will sell Student Rush Tickets for $17.50 (plus service fee if purchased online), located on Row P of the Balcony. For details, click http://www.dpacnc.com/events/special_offers.

SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/anything-goes.

STUDY GUIDES: http://anythinggoesontour.com/study-guide.pdf (Roundabout Theatre Company) and http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/anythinggoes/anything.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ5pTQ4gUpI.

SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/getting_here.

PARKING: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/parking_guide.

OTHER LINKS:

Anything Goes (background): http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/shows-events/anything-goes.aspx (Roundabout Theatre Company page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anything_Goes (Wikipedia).

Cole Porter: http://www.coleporter.org/ (Cole Wide Web) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cole_Porter (Wikipedia).

Roundabout Theatre Company: http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout_Theatre_Company (Wikipedia).

The Tour: http://www.anythinggoesontour.com/ (official website).

Tour Cast and Creative Team: http://www.anythinggoesontour.com/cast.php (official web page).

Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/anythinggoes/anything.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

Kathleen Marshall: http://broadwayworld.com/people/Kathleen-Marshall/ (BroadwayWorld.com bio) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Marshall (Wikipedia)

Rachel York: http://www.rachelyork.net/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_York (Wikipedia).

Josh Franklin: http://www.joshfranklin.net/ (official website) and http://broadwayworld.com/people/Josh-Franklin/ (BroadwayWorld.com bio).

Fred Applegate: http://www.fredapplegate.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Applegate_%28actor%29 (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.

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