BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN What happens when a cast of characters ends up on a boat together?
That’s the premise of “Anything Goes,” which will be on the Delano High School Auditorium stage beginning Friday, July 20, as community theater returns to Delano for the first time in eight years.
“With this production, 4 Community Theatre explores what happens when characters young and old, well-to-do and working class, progressive and conservative, are tossed together on a boat in the middle of the ocean,” director Joe Lawrence, of Delano, said. “Shake things up, stir in extremely talented musical directors and designers, add a gifted choreographer, and ‘Anything Goes!’”
The cast and crew is diverse in a number of ways with seasoned veterans working alongside first-timers and features individuals from throughout the area, including several with Delano connections.
Lawrence enjoys bringing those individuals together through theater, whether they be under the bright lights, operating those bright lights, or behind the scenes in other ways.
“The main reason for me to do this show is to connect adults who have an interest in the arts, music, and theater, and expertise in those areas, with our students in the four communities we serve: Orono, Rockford, Delano, and Maple Plain,” Lawrence said. “It’s a bridge between generations and a learning tool for everybody.”
He also has fond memories of the musical itself, having played the role of Billy in high school along with one of his friends from high school who played a leading role and has since passed away.
“It’s nice to go back to something that really got me engaged in theater as a kid and direct it as an adult,” Lawrence said. “It’s a riot to be involved in this. It’s a very fun, engaging comedy with great songs.”
He called theater a way to build community.
“There are so many differences between people, but when you come together and do a show like this, it builds friendships and understandings between people, and it’s a great thing for a town to have,” Lawrence said.
Many people have fingerprints on the production.
“Over the past two months, hundreds of people came together in Delano to do something positive for this community,” Lawrence said. “In order to properly stage ‘Anything Goes,’ countless volunteers contributed time, money, talent, and energy to act, sing, dance, and to update this performance space.”
Regarding that last point, the auditorium features a new stage floor, backdrop, and functionality and safety improvements, all funded by donations from the community.
Actors, actresses, singers, and dancers will take the stage for five shows: at 7 p.m. Friday, July 20; Saturday, July 21; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 22; 7 p.m. Friday, July 27; 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 29. The July 22 matinee will include American Sign Language interpretation.
In addition to Lawrence as artistic director, the production is led by musical director Mark Hemingway, orchestra conductor Jason Koets, choreographer Jameson Pieper, and scenic designer and technical director Jack Neveaux.
The cast and crew includes Rob and Becca Hudson; Amy Max; Kerri Olson; Brad Pappas; Margaret Reid; Tom Sullivan; Billy Emmer; Nathan Grefsrud; Jackson Althoff; Kelli and Jenni Carroll; Carley Spiese; Carly Linden; AJ Ragan; Ross MacLean; Solveig and Clara Lawrence; Mary Ludwig; Lilly Maeder; Emma Lund; Sydney Wuerger; Stephanie McClelland; Victoria Shafer; Joe Happe; Dave and Cathy Hoadley; Nate Stevens; Aaron Staufer; Michael Roban; Sarah Dunnom; Grace Yang; Amy-Marie Steman; Mari Olson; John and Julia Cornell; Sandy Haegele; Gregg Haugen; Janelle, Josh, and Michael Roban; Ana Engbloom; Elie and Kerstin Engel; Maya Haugen; Hazel Reid; Jean-Marie Steman; Taylor Weeding; Emily Horn; Andrew Lunceford; Keegan Finger; Katie Miller; Melanie DeLuca; Olivia Garrett; and Madelyn Roseen.
Tickets are available at www.4communitytheatre.com.