The Road from Dolly to Reno
When a show like Anything Goes comes around, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. Featuring songs that are beloved, dance that is exciting, and roles that are iconic, it is a full musical theatre package. And there comes an absolutely surreal moment, waking up on audition day, that you realize you are about to audition for one of the most well-known roles in one of the most well-known shows in musical theater history. And later there is another moment, considerably more frightening, when you are looking at a cast list thinking to yourself, “I got the part and how in the world did that happen?” Such was my experience when I was given the unbelievable opportunity to play Reno Sweeney in the last musical of my college career. I am acutely aware of how lucky I have been in terms of the roles I have been given in my time both at IPFW and before. In high school, I played Dolly Levi in my senior production of Hello Dolly! That was a huge turning point in my life, and though I had known I wanted to go into theater as a profession before then, it was during that production that I knew I never wanted to do anything else. From Dolly, I learned what it was to be a confident woman. I got to be someone who knew exactly what she wanted, who pushed past grief in search of life, who used her wit and charisma to build herself a future and bring joy to the lives of the people she cared about. That was so absolutely liberating for someone like me with very little self-confidence at the time. It started me down the path that eventually led me to playing Amanda Wingfield in IPFW’s production of The Glass Menagerie. Portraying Amanda at my age and limited life experience was both challenging and beautiful. Beneath the pain of Menagerie, I found a woman whose love for her children and desperation for their success was ferociously unmatched. From Amanda, I learned the importance of compassion and came to understand more wholly how deeply protective one can be of another’s success and happiness. And from there, I find myself here, shaping someone new from the women I have been. From Reno, I am learning how to be unstoppable. She is truly a force of nature, unwaveringly confident and comfortable in a way I someday hope to be. She is, like Dolly and Amanda, a woman pushed forward by the overwhelming strength of her convictions. Anything Goes is a marvel in that every woman has a definitive sense of agency. Though they may be swayed in smaller ways by circumstance, these women stand firm in their beliefs and reach for what they want. They are vibrant, bold, clever, and outstanding. I cannot say how much of an honor it is to be where I am among them, and how happy I am that my road has led me here.