The stage has been transformed into a cross-Atlantic ship, and the students have transformed themselves into some of the most iconic characters ever created on Broadway, for a production of the classic Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes” that opens Thursday at Pierson Middle-High School.
“The music is beautiful. All the dances are stunning — I can’t wait until everyone sees them,” director Bethany Dellapolla said this week. “There’s so many successes. They all sound beautiful vocally. I’ve got some amazing singers up there. Their acting has really come up. They’re playing in the style much better. It’s all heightened.”
“Anything Goes” debuted in 1934 and later, after the Tony Awards were introduced in 1947, won for “Best Revival of a Musical” in 1987 and 2011. The show follows the antics of Billy Crocker, a stock broker who stows away on a London-bound ship with the hope of winning the affection of the beautiful debutante Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and gangster Moonface Martin help Billy try to win Hope’s love and avoid getting caught by the ship’s captain.
Pierson senior Zebulun Kinney plays Billy, who “does disguises and different scenarios just to spend five minutes alone with Hope because he loves her so,” he explained.
“Probably my favorite part of the show, just doing show business, is being with the cast because it is a second family to me,” said Zebulun, who has been in the theater program since the ninth grade.
Coming into this week — which kicked off with an all-day technical rehearsal on Sunday – he said he was really anxious, but his nerves have since settled.
“I can really see it coming together,” Zebulun said. “Everyone is expressing themselves in new ways, and the energy is definitely up. It’s going very well. It’s going to be a fun time for everyone.”
Playing opposite Zebulun is junior Reilly Rose Schombs as Hope, who said there is a lesson to be learned from her character: “Definitely follow your heart. Rather than being loyal to others, be loyal to yourself and what you know you need.”
If rehearsals are any indication, the Pierson theater program is burgeoning with talent, and audiences can expect to hear familiar songs like “Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “You’re the Top” executed with skill and ease by singers who have spent much time honing their abilities.
“I’m really lucky in that there’s a lot of passion with these students,” Ms. Dellapolla said. “Whenever they come here, I see how much they want to be here, and how much they want to learn. I have a lot of wonderful heavy hitters here. It’s a great problem to have.”
What’s more, she said, is the students are really great kids, and it shows in the show.
“When they succeed, it makes me really happy because of the people they are,” Ms. Dellapolla said. “When those kids are open to each other, I think it comes across on stage.”
Reilly Rose called the theater program “super hands-on.”
“There is so much opportunity for students to not only be on stage but also be on stage crew and assistant directing and be immersed in the whole process of putting the show together,” she said. “I think we have a really great, tight-knit theater community as far as the students who are involved. We are so lucky that we have so many talented people.”
“Anything Goes” plays Thursday, April 26, and Friday, April 27, at 7 p.m. The show also plays Saturday, April 28, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. The school encourages advance ticket purchases or reservations, which can be made by visiting the main office between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. or by emailing Anne Galanty at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use “tickets” as the subject line for emailed requests. Tickets that are reserved must be picked up within three days of the reservation. Tickets may also be available at the door.