NEW CASTLE —
Paul Angelucci had a dilemma.
“I had so many talented kids who could play the leads in our musical this year, it was a bit of challenge to fit everyone in to the right role,” Angelucci said. “But I think we got it right.”
It indeed, was a nice problem to have for Shenango High’s fourth-year spring musical director.
When the curtain rises on “Anything Goes” tonight, Angelucci said what admittedly is one of the most gifted groups he has worked with will take the stage. The veteran of New Castle Playhouse productions chose the 1962 version of the musical over the revised 1987 version after collaborating with his support team of choreographer Kelly McNees, music director Samantha Leali and stage manager Monica Kraus.
“Anything Goes” features music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story centers around madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy No. 13, Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope.
“I was involved in the revival of it probably 18 years ago at the Playhouse and I’ve kept it in my mind to do it here,” Angelucci said. “Monica has been involved in several previous productions at Shenango, including one about 10 years ago that Kelly had a role in as a student.
“We went with the ’62 version because I thought it flowed better and was more nostalgic, and I liked the choreography better,” he said. “And the kids seem to really have gotten into the storyline and the costumes. It’s a comedy and just so much fun to watch.”
Musicals at Shenango have become so popular, Angelucci said, that while this year’s cast features 59 students in various major and minor roles, he still was not able to find parts for all 75 who auditioned.
“I hate to turn anyone away, I like to get them involved in some way, but we just had so many kids who wanted to participate,” he said. “All 59 of our kids sing and dance, so it has been quite an undertaking to pull this all together.”
Reno Sweeney is the biggest role of senior Miriah Mascetta’s career in Shenango musicals. Although Mascetta has not done much singing publicly, she has taken dance lessons for 15 years. While she has yet to decide on her major when she attends Youngstown State University, she plans on minoring in dance.
“I’ve had to give up my dance classes for the last two months so I could put this first, but this whole experience has been worth it,” she said. “I’ve just had such a great time and made so many great memories playing Reno.”
Senior Connor Watkins, in his fourth musical, also has his biggest role as Billy Crocker, who reconnects with old show business friend Reno to aid in his pursuit of Hope Harcourt. A veteran dancer for the New Castle Regional Ballet, Watkins said he also has put other activities on the back burner.
“When you’re in a musical, it has to come first,” said Watkins, who plans to major in theater at West Chester University in Philadelphia. “But it’s been an absolute blast, probably the best thing I’ve done in my high school career.”
Senior Tristan Hileman, who snagged the role of Sir Evelyn (pronounced Eve-a-lynn) is in his sixth musical.
“Sir Evelyn is very naive, just a totally clueless and gullible type,” Hileman said. “He believes whatever he is told.
“I try not to be like that in real life, but I might have a touch of it in me,” Hileman added with a laugh.
Hileman plans on attending college, but his plans are not yet definitive. He said he had to scale down his work at Pizza Joe’s to one day a week to devote his time to the musical.
“It’s takes so much commitment, but I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said. “I will be so sad when it’s over, but I can look back on it as a great experience that I will never forget.”
Junior Kevin Younger, who plays Moonface Martin, also is a veteran of six musicals, but he says this one is, by far, his biggest role. He said it was a joy to be able to bring out his wit in playing Moonface.
“Moonface is the comic relief, but that works well for me because I’m somewhat of a clown,” he said. “I like to make people laugh. I’m in my element for sure.”
Younger plans on attending Clarion University to major in psychology and minor in criminal justice.
“I’ve got another year, so this won’t be the last one for me, but I will miss the cast and crew,” he said. “We have just had an incredible time together. It’s been a lot of hard work, but just so much fun.”
Angelucci said this year’s musical has been his most enjoyable to date.
“I’ve loved them all, but now that I’m in my fourth year, some of the kids I started with have the lead roles, so it’s been great to watch them come along,” he said. “I have to say that these kids have been incredibly committed and have exceeded my expectations.
“I really think that being involved in something like this can set the tone for a person’s life,” Angelucci added. “If you make a commitment to a musical and do what you have to do, five or six days a week for two or three months, you’ve proven that you can stick with something and make it work.
“I always tell the kids going in that I can promise them that it will be a lot of hard work, but I also promise them that it will pay off in the end.”
NEW CASTLE —
Paul Angelucci had a dilemma.
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