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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Column: Anything Goes

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend and review Anything Goes at The Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Anything Goes is a revival of the 1987 Broadway rewrite while still featuring music and lyrics by Cole Porter.

The story focuses on two unlikely pairings on the S.S. American, a ship on which numerous hilarious moments and ridiculous situations occur throughout the show. Hope Harcourt, played by Alex Finke, is an heiress engaged to a wealthy man as well as the affection of a stowaway’s love.

Alex Finke is originally from Ohio and a recent graduate of the University of Michigan theatre program. She literally graduated half a year ago and is already performing professionally alongside veterans of Broadway theatre — quite inspiring and impressive, no?

I had the pleasure of watching Finke perform last week from my complimentary second-row seats, and I had the chance to interview this recent college graduate on her ridiculously fast journey to Broadway and her experience thus far on tour.

MUSE: How did you get this job and so fast?

FINKE: The University of Michigan theatre program takes all of its seniors and puts on a showcase in New York City every year. I was approached and asked to audition for the show, and after multiple callbacks, I was offered the part. I even saw the show to prepare for the auditions, just to make sure I knew what skills to present.

MUSE: When did you know you wanted to have a career in musical theatre, and if you hadn’t, what do you think you’d be doing right now instead?

FINKE: I’ve been dancing since I was six, putting on concerts in the basement, and I even taught myself the choreography to Cats from the video. It wasn’t really a career option until junior year of high school. I enjoy science and I could’ve been a teacher or gone into something medical, but this is something I had a love for. If I didn’t try and go for it, I would always wonder what would’ve happened if I had given it a shot.

MUSE: How was it, being in one of the top theatre programs in the nation?

FINKE: It was a great place to be because you would think that a place with a “top school” reputation would be a certain way … but no, it’s a family. It’s not competitive in a malicious way. Everyone is positive and encouraging. There is a lot of focus on education as an individual instead of putting you in specific slots as a performer. The most challenging part of school was going through every day — going to classes and then performing. It’s kind of like you’re naked, because you’re brave enough to perform and get critiqued. You’re growing as a person and a performer. It’s a bizarre journey.

MUSE: Anything you miss about college? Where are your friends from school now?

FINKE: I miss going to football games. I miss having friends live a couple of blocks away. College is a great time, but there’s also so much to be excited about. My class is doing really well. People are auditioning and getting call backs. Some people are exploring television and film. For the number of students there are, there is a solid percentage that are working. My class was 23 people. They try to keep it around 10 women and 10 men.

MUSE: What does the cast do after each show?

FINKE: A lot of people are hungry, so we’ll grab a late bite. If your adrenaline level is still high, we go to someone’s hotel room, watch a movie and hang out. I’m really mellow. We’re lucky that we have such a warm company and that everyone is close to everyone in a different way. I really enjoy hanging around veterans who have so many stories and perspectives to tell. Watching them every day is a lesson in the craft.

MUSE: What have you enjoyed most about touring?

FINKE: I’ve been loving the traveling. In Arizona, we did a lot of hiking. In terms of performing, opening night in Cleveland was magical. The whole experience, I’ve been in disbelief. Even in rehearsals, I’m pinching myself. On the first night, I walked out on stage and fully realized that I’m doing this and it’s real and the whole journey is in front of me.

MUSE: What are your career goals? What are your plans after the tour is over?

FINKE: There is so much ahead of me. I’ve been so lucky to have had this opportunity so young. I want to make NYC feel like home, and I’m really excited to make the move. I want to audition for projects down the line, and I would love to be a lead in a musical on Broadway. I’m very open to where my career will take me. I would love to do it all.

Anything Goes is in San Francisco until Feb. 3.

ELIZABETH ORPINA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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