Young cast discovers magic where ‘Anything Goes’

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By Sara Miller

Classic musicals stand the test of time because they have simple story lines, laugh-inducing scripts, and music that sticks with audiences long after the curtain falls. “Anything Goes” is a celebration of the great American musical and one of its greatest composers, Cole Porter. The latest production of this time-honored show, presented by StageDoor Theatre’s high school company, offers a fresh take on this 80-year-old theatrical gem.

“Anything Goes” was originally staged in 1934 and starred a young Ethel Merman. Over the years, the show was rewritten several times, and had three Broadway revivals. “Anything Goes” is based on a standard Broadway trope: Boy meets girls, boy almost loses girl … in a tale dappled with gangsters, show girls and sailors. The constants for the show are the farce-like humor of the story and the award-winning music. Some of Cole Porter’s most famous songs such as “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s De-Lovely” bring the show to life.

The story is filled with madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker (Sam Kassman), a stowaway stockbroker, is chasing his true love, and Reno Sweeney (Christa Vrabel), a nightclub starlet dressed to perfection, sings and dances her way through a series of romantic manipulations, encounters with the mob, and general mayhem with the passengers and crew. They are joined by Billy’s true love, debutante Hope (Megan Mosey), her wealthy, naïve fiancé, Lord Evelyn Oakley (Ben Yerks), and the tough guy with the big heart, mobster Moonface Martin (Jocelyn Clark).

“It’s always very exciting with young people to see them discover a show that they aren’t as familiar with,” says director Kelly McAllister. “Although we’ve all seen the show many times, this cast is discovering it for the first time. It’s like working on a brand new play for them, and they bring such a fresh approach to it.”

McAllister and his team — music director Tanner Kelly, choreographer Tracy Doty and production manager Heather Kassman — needed a fresh approach to some of the show’s musical numbers, too.

“’The Sailor’s Chanty’” is usually performed by a male quartet. We have more girls than boys in our cast, so we have a quartet of female sailors. These four girls are awesome singers. Their harmonies are so tight they sound like the Andrews Sisters,” says McAllister.

The female sailors are played by Austin Johnson, Maddie Manser, Ani Owens and Kisa Owens. Not only does the cast sing, but, coached by choreographer Doty, they also dance.

“We have a full tap for the song ‘Anything Goes.’ Some of these actors are discovering tap for the first time. They are doing an amazing job,” says McAllister.

Whether you love the comfort of a familiar Broadway show or the excitement or a young cast discovering a classic, “Anything Goes” is a “de-lovely” way to spend an evening. For more information on StageDoor’s 2014-15 season or to order tickets, call 303-838-0809 or visit www.stagedoortheatre.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.