Fred Applegate – starring as Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, in the upcoming performance of Anything Goes at the Durham Performing Arts Center – took a moment to speak with Ron Stutts of 97.9FM WCHL. Anything Goes runs from March 19-24 at DPAC.
Tell us about Anything Goes. What can people expect?
“Well people can expect a really good time,” Applegate says. “It’s Cole Porter music. It’s amazing how many songs from this show you’re going to think you knew before you were born. People think it’s a jukebox musical because all of the songs are so famous and such a part of our culture. There’s a lot of tap dancing, some good comedy, some mistaken identities, and some mixed-up romances, and it all gets solved on a five day cruise from New York to London.”
Winner of three 2011 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and Choreography, this production of Anything Goes is sure to astound audiences. The New York Times calls it “MUSICAL-COMEDY JOY” and USA TODAY hails it as “GLORIOUS and EXHUBERANT!”
Anything Goes follows the story of two unlikely couples on a cruise from New York to London. With the help of some singing sailors, clever disguises, Public Enemy #13 (Applegate’s character), and an evangelist turned nightclub singer, Anything Goes proves that sometimes love needs a little push to come out on top. Top it off with musical theater classics such as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely” and, as the song says, “Anything Goes!”
Applegate plays Moonface Martin, Public Enemy Number 13.
“I just don’t have the heart to make the top ten I guess,” he says, “but it does bother me.”
When did you first get started in Show business?
Applegate had his first professional job in 1977. He got the acting bug early in life when he played one of the Siamese children in his local high school’s production of The King and I.
“I thought this absolutely makes sense, and this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Applegate says. “I told my father when I was seven that I wanted to be an actor, and he said ‘How do you do that?’ I said ‘I don’t know,’ and he said ‘Well find out!’”
“My parents have always been very supportive. My parents grew up in the Depression. They came out of it wanting my sister and I to do whatever we wanted because they grew up in a world where you couldn’t do whatever you wanted.”
You spent a lot of time on Broadway, tell us about some of your experiences and some of your performances.
Applegate says he came to Broadway “kind of late in life.” He lived in California for 25 years doing television (You might recognize him from an episode of Seinfeld in which he fires George from a real estate job. George decides to get revenge by spiking his drink, just as he decides to give George his job back). Although he did both The Sound of Music in 1997 and The Producers in 2003 on Broadway, it wasn’t until he was asked to do Young Frankenstein in 2007 that he moved to New York.
“I thought ‘How many chances, how many bites at the big apple do you get?’ Applegate says.
Since his move Applegate has performed in Happiness at Lincoln Center, Fanny for Encores!, La Cage aux Folles, Sister Act, and now Anything Goes.
“Life on the road is not so easy when you have a family and if I weren’t really enjoying this show so much I would be pretty miserable. These people are great, the cast is wonderful, the show is great, the audiences love it. It’s really worth doing.”
Tell us about your family.
Applegate describes his parents as “delightful” and attributes his sense of humor to his mom. He and his wife, Cherie, have been married for 33 years.
“I blame her for that,” he says while laughing. “She says it’s been 12 of the happiest years of her life.”
He has three children: Ben, Meredith and Ethan. His youngest son is studying acting and directing.
“I encouraged them to do whatever they wanted to do,” Applegate says. “If you find something you’re passionate about, it’s worth doing.”
Back to Anything Goes
Applegate describes the show as a farce. The show follows a romance between a young man, Billy Crocker, and woman, Hope Harcourt, as they travel from New York to London aboard the S.S. “American.” However, Hope is engaged to a lord and heading to London to be married. Applegate’s character and his sidekick, Erma, try to help Billy derail the marriage and get the multiple couples on board with the people they are “supposed to be with.”
“Over us all is Reno Sweeney, played by the truly extraordinary Rachel York,” Applegate describes. “Reno is a nightclub entertainer who’s entertaining on the ship on her way to London. And she’s in love with the guy who’s in love with the girl who’s going to marry the lord.”
“It keeps getting complicated so it can all get sorted out in the silliest possible way at the end, and on the way we get to sing a catalogue of Cole Porter hits that are all terrific.”
You can find all the info you need on how to see the show at DPAC’s Website. And enjoy the show!