NEW CASTLE —
“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking,
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, heaven knows, anything goes.”
So say the lyrics of Cole Porter’s 1934 theme song to the hit Broadway show of the same name, “Anything Goes.”
And so it will be at Wilmington High School this weekend as students bring the classic musical to life on their stage.
While Cole Porter and “Anything Goes” are classics of the American musical theater, much of this generation’s high school students — and even generations much older — are unfamiliar with the rollicking story of Depression-era mistaken identities, fraudulent personalities, gangsters, loose women, and nice girls all finding themselves thrown together on the same ship for a week-long ocean voyage.
What ensues is mischief, hijinks and merry mix-ups that lead to broken wedding vows, new romances, reunited lost loves and the bad guys getting their come-uppance in the end. For the audience, it means an evening of laughs, memories and a soundtrack of unforgettable songs drawn directly from the American Song Book.
Those unfamiliar with the story will find not a classic museum piece, but a still-fresh and original, sweet comedy, adventure and love story sure to please every member of the family.
Director Brenda Hickman is in her third year directing Wilmington’s spring musicals. She takes a two-month hiatus from one of her two jobs to direct the musical each year, but the process starts long before that intensive rehearsal period.
“Auditions and casting took place back in November and we began rehearsing in early December,” Hickman explained.
Choice of this show goes back even further, perhaps even to the previous school year.
“I always try to find a show with as many speaking characters as possible, and best suited to our students.” Hickman said. “ ‘Anything Goes’ has a lot of great roles, plus it is a classic. It originated back in the 1930s, but it is still great fun. It has stood the test of time.”
With 40-plus cast members, as well as students in the orchestra, running the lights, sound cues and most technical elements of the play, in addition to helping out in makeup, costumes and props, “Anything Goes” truly is a student-run production.
Amid that cast is senior Cameron McKinley who, as Bill Crocker, is appearing in his sixth Wilmington production, following roles in “The Sound of Music,” “The Pajama Game,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “Alice at Wonderland,” among others. He plans to major in acting or broadcasting in college while continuing to perform.
“Billy is a broker,” McKinley explained. “He sneaks on the boat using the passport of Public Enemy No. 1, Snake Eyes Johnson, who doesn’t make the boat. The whole ship thinks he’s Public Enemy No. 1, so he has to keep pretending that he is Snake Eyes.
“In the end the truth comes out, but not before a lot of hilarity takes place.”
Among those joining McKinley on stage is senior Christina Leonard from Volant, who plays Bonnie. Leonard is also a Wilmington stage veteran, having done at least six previous shows including “Annie,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” “The Pajama Game” and “Alice At Wonderland,” among others.
Leonard is college bound for the Pittsburgh area next year, where she intends to major in psychology.
“Bonnie is the assistant and friend of gangster Moonface Martin, who mischievously sneaks on the ship disguised as a preacher,” Leonard said. “He tries to keep his cover, which is difficult, because he is not very godly.
“I really enjoy playing Bonnie. She is very vibrant, a colorful personality who gets to display that fun-loving persona. This role has taken a lot of extra confidence for me. It’s my first solo, in fact I have two songs, plus a lot more lines, I had to learn to do an accent that I could keep the entire show.
“I’m just really thankful to my fellow cast members this year. They gave me the confidence boost to continue to keep my spirits up.”
NEW CASTLE —
“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking,
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