The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 15, 2002


'Anything Goes,' a musical by Cole Porter, is a smash hit at Concord-Carlisle High School

Cole Porter's zany cruise-ship musical "Anything Goes" dropped anchor at Concord-Carlisle High School for two weekends in March, concluding its five-show run last Sunday afternoon. All five shows were completely sold out, thanks to the combination of a fabulous musical score, the just-plain-fun script, extraordinarily talented student performers and eye-popping, show-stopping tap numbers. More than once, audience members were overheard to comment that performances rivaled those of professional theater groups - a sentiment borne out by consistently enthusiastic crowds and standing ovations.

Students from Carlisle comprised the majority of the pit orchestra as they played from their on-stage balcony high up on the USS American. (Left to right) Jen Morse, Nora Carr, Steve Foster, Brian Abend, Jesse Nock, Elizabeth Cheever, Roshni Kapadia and Stephen Yu.

The story of "Anything Goes" takes place aboard the S.S. American, a luxury liner sailing from New York to England. On board is nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (played by Christina D'Ambrosio), who has unrequited feelings for Billy Crocker (Mike Lazar). Billy ends up stowing away on the ship to pursue one-time flame Hope Harcourt (Caitlin McHugh), in spite of the fact that she's engaged to marry Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Gordon Kraft-Todd), who ultimately finds himself secretly attracted to Reno. Things get stirred up even further by the arrival of Public Enemy Number 13, Moonface Martin (Danny Rooney) and his attractive sidekick, Erma (Katherine Horlitz). The plot contorts into a tangled web of star-crossed lovers, cases of mistaken identity, dancing sailors and irreverent humor, interspersed with classic Cole Porter tunes, including "I Get A Kick Out of You", "You're the Top", "Friendship", "It's De-Lovely", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", and "All Through the Night."
Costume coordinator and parent Susie Schmidt (second from left) provides the finishing touches for Sydney Holleman, while Valerie (left) and Irene Schmidt (right) look on.

A play of professional quality

"The show is a lot of fun. It's basically a situation comedy," says director Chuck Brown, who is in charge of choral music at the high school. The production was a fitting vehicle for the lead actors, all of whom are seniors from Concord and were savoring their final CCHS musical. The professional quality of the show was due, in great part, to the talent and experience these performers brought to the stage. Christina D'Ambrosio for example, has been involved in theater for the past ten years, Danny Rooney estimates that he has appeared in at least 30 shows, and stage veteran Mike Lazar has been accepted (early admission) to the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, where he will be studying musical theater. Look for these kids on Broadway.

In addition to the impressive lead players, the strength of the entire ensemble was displayed during the large production numbers, particularly the exciting tap rendition of "Anything Goes" (choreographed by Jen Micarelli Webb), and the thrilling mock-revival number, "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", featuring Carlisle student Brian Abend as the stand-out solo trumpet player.

Tech and crew members kept the show, and the ship, on an even keel. (Back row): Rory McCarroll, running crew; Dante Falcone, sound engineer; (front row) Michael Johnson, tech crew; Melissa Hinton, props mistress and Cait Phillips, assistant stage manager.

One of the unique features of this year's show was the location of the pit orchestra, which included nine student musicians from Carlisle. Instead of being tucked out of sight in a pit below the front of the stage, the musicians were placed on an elevated platform where they acted as the ship's orchestra, in full view and decked out in white tuxedo jackets and black ties.

As effortless as this top-notch production of "Anything Goes" appeared to be, it was the culmination of seven weeks of hard work.

"It's a hard show. It's large, it's comedy, and it's not easy. But the kids have worked hard, and it's showing," says Brown. It didn't help, however, that rehearsals coincided with flu season. "It went through the cast twice. The second dress rehearsal was the first time the whole cast was together."

Becoming an ensemble

But even if togetherness promoted germ-sharing, it also helped the cast bond and become an ensemble. In addition to after-school rehearsals beginning in January, the cast and crew of "Anything Goes" spent most of February break at the school - frequently arriving by 8:30 a.m., and staying long after dinnertime.

Jacquie O'Kelly gets ready for the curtain to go up, thanks to Carlisle friends (left to right) Amy Chateauneuf, Jenny Zuk and Olivia Vienneau.

"It helps bring you closer, because you've been eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with these people," says junior Jeremy Till, a chorus member and dancer from Carlisle.

"It also helps you feel more confident because you've worked so hard," added ensemble member Jenny Zuk, a freshman also from Carlisle.

Behind the scenes was a group of dedicated parents, CC-POPS (Concord-Carlisle Patrons of Performing Students), who spent hours donating - and serving - food to the kids during long days of rehearsals, as well as providing costumes, building sets, styling hair, applying make-up and selling concessions during intermission. Parents were also responsible for decorating school hallways with portholes and life preservers to create the ambiance of "Anything Goes" even before the audience entered the auditorium.

For Sydney Holleman, a Carlisle senior (she played a reporter and ensemble member), this was the first - and last - musical she will appear in at CCHS. Having been involved in back-stage crew and

A sailor from the USS American (Jeremy Till) wishes a "bon voyage" to a passenger (Nikki Armistead).

several straight plays at the high school (and "The Truth About Cinderella" in seventh grade in Carlisle), Holleman plans to pursue theater administration in college. "I love theater and I always have," she says. As for the hard work involved in putting on "Anything Goes", Holleman asserts that "We work really hard, and there's a bonding thing going on. It takes a lot of rehearsal hours, but it's so worth the work."

Carlisle students in "Anything Goes" included ensemble members Amy Chateauneuf, Sydney Holleman, Jacquie O'Kelly, Irene Schmidt, Valerie Schmidt and Nikki Armistead; dancers Christina Fiorentino, Jeremy Till, Olivia Vienneau and Jenny Zuk; pit orchestra musicians Jennifer Morse, Stephen Yu, Roshni Kapadia, Brian Abend, Elizabeth Cheever, Jeffery Pan, Nora Carr, Steve Foster, Jessica Nock and Stephanie Abend (pit librarian); and backstage crew members Rory McCarroll, Michael Johnson, Dante Falcone, Melissa Hinton and Cait Phillips.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito