‘Anything Goes’ in upcoming GRC spring musical

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Cole Porter, a leading composer and songwriter of the early 20th century, was the music and lyrics behind many musicals in his heyday. 

One such musical can now be seen on the theatrical stage of George Rogers Clark High School. 

For their spring musical, students will be performing “Anything Goes”, originally written in the 1930s and still performed to this day. 

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Performances will occur at 7:00 p.m. on both Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 21.

“I love the fact that we are putting on a show that is not overdone. It’s something that our community probably won’t see very much of,” said Kris Olson, music teacher and choral director at GRC. “What I’m most proud of [is] these kids have taken a show like this and run with it!” 

Set on board an ocean liner, the musical features a cast of different characters. 

Among them is Billy Crocker, a stowaway and real estate broker in love with heiress Hope Harcourt. 

A debutante, Harcourt is – interestingly enough – engaged to the wealthy yet eccentric Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. 

Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer, and Moonface Martin, a prototypical 1930s-era gangster in disguise who is also known as Public Enemy Number 13, seek to aid Billy in his mission to win over Hope. 

As can be expected, it doesn’t take place without some humor. 

“When you get this many people on a boat…interesting things happen,” Olson said. “There are romantic entanglements and mistaken identities and hijinks…the plot thickens and then all along the way you have really fun music numbers, [and] big dance numbers [so] it’s zany. It’s a madcap musical. It’s very much of that era.” 

Senior Zach Ross, who has previously performed in school musicals, takes on the role of Billy. 

“Billy has a lot of variety within his character…I’ve played a lot of funny characters, but not as many who are hopelessly in love,” Ross said. “It’s really special to me because it feels like I’ve worked my way up to this [lead role].”

Junior Grace Owen, a prior and award-winning performer, takes on the role of Sweeney. 

“I get to sing a lot, and in my previous shows I really haven’t [sung] much and shown off my vocal skills,” Owen said. “Also, the dancing in this musical is really advanced. We’re doing a lot of [tap dancing] and it’s really cool to watch all these…high school [students] get together and do this wonderful production.” 

Choreographing the show is none other than a fellow GRC student in senior Chole Galloway. 

“There’s a lot of specific dance moves that you think of when you think of the 20s, 30s, and 40s,” Galloway said, noting that the Charleston is one such example. “I really tried to hone in on what you would have seen at that time to make it very time period appropriate…the amount of time that it’s taken for the students to pick up [choreography] has been really quick.” 

As far as music, Olson spoke. 

“The music is very jazzy, but the lyrics are also really clever,” he said. “For what a great composer Cole Porter was, there’s a lot of humor in the lyrics. There’s a lot of wordplay.” 

Certainly not least, family volunteers have also contributed assistance. 

Among them is Beth Jinkerson, whose daughter, Rory, is a sophomore performer. 

“We’ve got 48 kids in acting and 46 actually in costume. [Most] of them have at least two costumes, and our lead has eight costume changes,” Jinkerson said, noting that she has also helped instruct students during this school year about how to sew costume pieces. “We had kids who went from zero knowledge [who] could not even thread the eye of a needle to working a machine, making alterations, [and] putting together entire pieces of the costume.” 

With much rehearsal having taken place, and a total cast of nearly 100 individuals including those working behind the scenes, Olson looks forward to what lies in store. 

“One of the reasons I’m excited for the kids to do it is because it’s an older show, and I think part of what we’re about in education is exposing kids to new things that they may not have done before [or] never had the opportunity to do before,” he said. “We approach it from an educational standpoint as well.”