Stage North Theatre Co. presents 'Anything Goes'

Stage North Theatre Co. of the Brainerd lakes area presents "Anything Goes," a Cole Porter musical with six performances starting March 24 at the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd.

Cast  members from the play stand on the stage saluting.
The cast of Stage North Theatre Co.'s production of the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes" performs "Bon Voyage" during a rehearsal at the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd.
Contributed / Gary Hirsch

BRAINERD — Join Stage North Theatre Co. on its luxury liner the S.S. American for a laugh-a-minute voyage where literally and figuratively “anything goes.”

The Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes” sets sail six times from the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd starting March 24 through April 2.

Set in 1934, the crazy cruise begins when Reno Sweeney (Jana Johnson), a popular nightclub singer and former evangelist bumps into a stowaway — her old pal Billy Crocker (Jesse Brutscher).

Billy is a lovestruck, wannabe Wall Street broker seeking to win the heart of celebrity debutante Hope Harcourt (Olivia Notch), who is traveling with her fiancé, the stodgy Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Mark Oehrlein).

For a dash of intrigue and chaos, fellow passengers Moonface Martin (Nat Roberts), a second-rate gangster, and his moll, Bonnie (Wendy DeGeest), attempt to “help” Billy unite with Hope by including him in their charades to stay one step ahead of the law.


“With sweeping songs, dazzling dances and absurd antics the fun never stops,” according to Jenny Kiffmeyer.

The show has been two years in the making, interrupted by COVID-19. Many of the original local cast members were able to return, like Candace Kunde whose character is a relentless FBI agent.

“I cried a few times when the show was postponed since it is my first production,” Kunde said in a news release. “But now we are back and ready to perform.”

To fill any gaps in the cast, auditions were held a second time and several new faces were found to round out the troupe.

We are SO excited to be back.
— Wendy DeGeest

For some, the delay was meant to be. Maureen Paulus (who plays Olga, a sweet Norwegian girl) wanted to audition the first time around but could not because she was too young by two years.

And first-timer Jillian McArdell (Olga’s friend Lena) jumped at the chance to join the group after seeing Stage North Theatre Co.’s production of “A Christmas Story” in December.

“We are SO excited to be back,” DeGeest stated in the news release. “The oldies are helping the newbies and we are going the distance — for ‘Anything Goes!’”

The other cast members are as follows:


Reno’s “Angels” (Purity, Modesty, Chastity and Charity) played by Emma Hopman, Kim Huether, Jaiden Wentz and Jenna Hanson.

Mrs. Harcourt: Barb McColgan.

Elisha Whitney: M. Hollis Ford.

The Rev. Henry T. Dobson: Ed Yunker.

Captain: Eddie Binda.

Purser: Connor Nichols.

Photographer: Emily Binsfeld.

Reporter: Rebecca Aanerud.


Tap dancers: Binsfeld, Maureen Paulus, Chelsey Perkins and Kelley Smith.

The production staff consists of Gary Hirsch, director; DeGeest, choreographer; Kelley Smith, music director; Tim Leagjeld, stage manager; Jared Foss, technical director; Tadina Ikola, light board operator; and Sheridan Wilson and Jude Kronstedt on spotlight.

Tickets for “Anything Goes” are $10 and may be purchased at 218-232-6810, , at A Needle Pulling Thread on the main level of the Franklin Arts Center, or at the door the day of the performances.

“Anything Goes” may be seen at 7:30 p.m. March 24 and 25, March 31 and April 1, with matinees at 2 p.m. March 26 and April 2.

Tickets already purchased for the production’s initial attempt to stage the musical and those with 2020 season tickets will be honored for the upcoming performances.

The local production is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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