The first thing my Uncle said to me when I left the stage after performing in my senior show was “When did you grow up?” In December, I was cast as Reno Sweeney in my high school’s production of Anything Goes. Traditional musicals are my first love, but I only became acquainted with Anything Goes when Roundabout Theater was doing the revival. All I could remember was watching Sutton Foster on the Tony Awards tap dance for 9 minutes or so and then belt out the last note with no problem. I was floored watching her do this so I researched every single Youtube video I could find of this goddess.
It turned out that Sutton was really afraid to take the role in the first place. Reno Sweeney is a brassy, sexy nightclub singer and she always saw this as the farthest thing from her own personality.
As a freshman in high school, I could totally identify with Foster’s sentiment. I had done a show called Hello Dolly! a few years before and had to embody a fabulous, meddlesome, larger-than-life diva character. My singing voice was not reserved at all, but my shy personality made me feel extremely timid within the role, almost like I was wearing my mom’s makeup and big heels. I was so anxious going into the role of Reno that I would feel the exact same way and furthermore appear that way to an audience. I am a 12th grader now and a young woman; I couldn’t chalk it up to my age anymore.
The journey of Anything Goes for me was through the music. The music director I worked with pushed me vocally at first. When we’d rehearse Reno’s iconic solos, such as “Blow Gabriel Blow” he would push me to ascend through keys. I would lock my lips and refuse to sing what I felt I knew I couldn’t do. When I got over my fear of “sounding ugly”, I realized I had these high notes in my range the entire time. When I belted high and let loose, I felt completely comfortable jumping into character. With the support of a cast of friends (who I will keep for a lifetime), I took on Reno as my final character at my high school and learned a hell of a lot about embracing life to its fullest and fighting for what I want in life.
I wasn’t afraid of her anymore.
“Take me Back to Manhattan”
“I get a Kick out of You”