“Anything Goes” cast members (left to right): Caitlin Ellis, Fiona Edmonds, Isabella Purnell-Maaez, Marguerite Benham (Reno Sweeney), Addison Smith and Sophie Frizzle. Sheryl Palese photo

Brunswick High School actors are gearing up to perform “Anything Goes,” the school’s priciest and most prominent musical in the wake of the pandemic. The show opens next week at Crooker Theater.

When the high school shut down in 2020 after the arrival of COVID-19, the theater department lost its $10,000 investment in “The Addams Family” musical that never had the chance to open. Director and choreographer Linda Gardiner said the following year, she and her production team tried to “keep costs really low” by performing royalty-free shows with small casts, such as “Romeo and Juliet,” and borrowing costumes from Maine State Music Theater.

By remaining frugal for two years and generating enough money through ticket sales for last spring’s musical “Footloose,” Gardiner said the program saved up enough money to launch “Anything Goes.”

With a $20,000 price tag on the production, “Anything Goes” will feature stunning costumes, a 10-foot-tall wooden boat and 48 cast members performing a seven-minute tap-dance routine. Gardiner said only three of her students had ever tap danced before, which prompted her to start dance rehearsals in September. Gardiner said the set construction is thanks to the dedication of students, parents and show producer Michael Millet, all of whom have come in every Saturday morning since January to work on it.

In addition to the set, the 12 students working behind the scenes have crafted some unique 1930s props for the show. Gardiner said student Elliot Morgan made a period-appropriate passport, telegram and life preserver “from scratch.”

“Anything Goes” is a musical set in the 1930s on the S.S. American ocean liner, where nightclub singer and evangelist Reno Sweeney (played by Marguerite Benham) leaves New York and heads to England for a new adventure. Sweeney’s close friend Billy Crocker (played by Jaden Nicita) stows away on the ship to win the heart of his love interest Hope Harcourt, who is already engaged to a wealthy man. Crocker enlists the help of Sweeney and her backup dancers to make his romance a reality.


Benham said she is nervous about the opening night since this is her first leading role, but the rehearsal experience has been incredible.

“I’ve never held this much responsibility in a role before,” Benham said. “Playing the lead is a super cool experience; I’ve learned a lot of awesome acting and singing techniques. The most exciting element has been learning tap — a whole new dance style for me.”

Nicita said he, too, is anxious for opening night but said nerves can fuel a top-notch performance.

“You’re always nervous before opening night! But I think that’s a good thing; it reminds me of how important the show is, not just to myself and my cast mates but to the whole community,” Nicita said. “I’m very privileged to be a BHS player because of the standard of excellence our directors and audience hold us to, but with that comes the responsibility to always bring your A game. If you’re gonna do your best, nerves are just a natural part of the process.”

“Anything Goes” will play at the Brunswick High School Crooker Theater at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, and Friday, March 24, as well as 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Ticket prices for adults are $17 and tickets for students and seniors are $12.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Brunswick High School Players website.

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