Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reverend's Interview: Anything Goes with Marcus Shane

Cole Porter's raucous musical-comedy Anything Goes has been entertaining audiences around the world pretty much non-stop since its Broadway debut way back in 1934.  With a storyline involving evangelists, sailors, gangsters and mismatched lovers, plus a score that includes such standards as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top," "It's De-Lovely," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and the title tune, the show has proven to be truly timeless.

If there was any doubt as to this popularity before 2011, that year's New York revival of Anything Goes proved naysayers wrong.  With current Broadway "It Girl" Sutton Foster as evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, a role previously played by Ethel Merman and Patti Lupone, and high-energy choreography and direction by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall, the new production was a huge success.  The touring version pulls into port at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles for a six-week, holiday run beginning today.

Gay cast member Marcus Shane spoke with Reverend from the tour's first stop in Cleveland, Ohio.  Shane plays John, one of two Chinese gamblers who are posing as innocent missionaries.  Originally named Ching and Ling, the pair were given more politically correct, Gospel-inspired names (the other is Luke) in the musical's revised libretto.  The 27-year old Shane was born in South Korea but adopted by American parents when he was young.

REV:  Thanks for taking time out to talk with us.  How long have you been with the tour now?
MS: No problem!  Well, we just opened two weeks ago in Cleveland, which is our first stop following five weeks of rehearsal, so all in all it's been about two months.

REV: What have been some of the highlights of the show or tour for you?
MS: First and foremost, working with Kathleen Marshall, who came back and choreographed and directed. Then, working with Rachel York (veteran of the original casts of Broadway's City of Angels, Victor/Victoria and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, among many other shows) as Reno.  She is spectacular!  It's a great cast and show.

REV: What do you most enjoy about performing?
MS: The audiences, really getting to share our story with them and getting their feedback.  Every performance and audience is different.

REV:  When were you first bitten by "the bug"?
MS: Probably when I was in kindergarten.  I played the sun, with a yellow paper plate on my face, and sang "You Are My Sunshine" in a school production!  (Laughs.)  I've been singing and performing ever since.

REV: Anything Goes is such a well-known, classic show.  Does that pose any unique challenges for you as a performer?
MS: It does, but there have been countless revivals and so many interpretations.  It is always evolving. Kathleen Marshall has really made this one spectacular, and brought in a new writer to add and update some things.

REV: Would you say the show has any special appeal or relevance to the GLBT community, aside from Cole Porter's well-known bisexuality?
MS: You know what, it's a show for everyone but we have the hottest guys and gals of any show in very sexy outfits.  The chorus boys wear sailor suits that leave little to the imagination!

REV: I read that you were formerly a go-go dancer.  Where was that and what was the experience like?
MS: (Laughs.)  I had just graduated and moved to New York.  I got a tip from a friend of mine in Michigan (Shane's home state) to audition for this gay Asian club.  I went there and it was like Miss Saigon! (Laughing.)  The guys were so in-shape and hot, and I was so intimidated and shy that I worked there only one day.  My go-go dancing career lasted exactly eight hours!  It just was not for me. (Laughs.)

REV: What are your long-term goals?
MS: Being employed is #1.  As an actor, I want to play as many parts as I can.  I want to move to Los Angeles at some point.  I just did a short film called Half-Share, which is set on Fire Island and stars (gay actors) Alec Mapa and Jack Plotnick.  It was my first experience on a film set but I loved it and would like to do more movies in the future.

REV: Last question, but one I'm sure one many will ask you: are you single?
MS: I am.  I'm Grindr single. (Laughs.)

For more information about the L.A. engagement of Anything Goes and to purchase tickets, visit the Center Theatre Group website.

Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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