CLINTONVILLE - The sights and sounds of the 1930s will take over the stage next week as the AuSable Valley Players present "Anything Goes."
"We wanted to do a big musical, something spectacular and fun," said the show's choreographer, Diane White, "and we wanted to do some tap dancing. There's a lot of tap dancing in the show."
Set in the 1930s when it was written, "Anything Goes" tells the lighthearted story of Billy Crocker, a love-sick stockbroker who stows away on an ocean liner in hopes of winning the heart of Hope Harcourt, an heiress stuck in a loveless engagement with a wealthy British nobleman. Though Hope's feelings for Billy are mutual, she feels marrying is the only way to save her family's business.
With help from a night club singer and a pair of second-rate gangsters, Billy struggles to find a way for he and Hope to be together while trying to avoid the attention of sailors mistaking him for a crime boss. Hilarity ensues as their pretentious schemes produce unexpected results.
"It's a high-pace, quirky comedy that hasn't been done in a while," said the show's director, Derrick Hopkins.
"Anything Goes" features a well-known score by Cole Porter. Songs such as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Friendship," and "Let's Misbehave," are sure to be easily recognized.
"Cole Porter, the way he wrote his music, it's not easy," said White. "The songs are pretty complicated and intricate. They've all been challenging vocally, but the kids are doing a great job with it."
Steven Collier returns this year as vocal director while Karen Becker leads the pit orchestra.
"Anything Goes" features more than 30 middle-high school students as well as a smaller troupe of elementary-age children and adults.
Eight seniors are included in the cast, many of whom bring years of experience to the stage.
"Some of them started in kindergarten," noted White, "so they've spent their whole school career being in the musicals."
Senior Joli Straight, who plays Hope, has 12 musicals under her belt and said this is the best production she's been in.
"The style, the tap dancing, the music; it's something everyone will enjoy," she said.
In contrast, fellow senior Victoria Whitney is in her first musical at AVCS, but managed to land one of the lead roles as Erma.
"It's been really fun, but it's taught me a lot about hard work," she said. "I never knew how much work went into these shows."
"Anything Goes" is the 18th production by the AuSable Valley Players, and White remembers how the earliest shows were much smaller.
"It's really grown. It used to be that we'd just have 20 kids doing the whole show," she said. "Now we have loads of volunteers. The school and community have all been so helpful and supportive. If they weren't, we probably wouldn't be doing it. For some kids, this is their exposure to the performing arts."
Showtimes are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 11-13 and 1 p.m. March 14 in the AVCS auditorium. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in the school lobby from 3-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Reserved seating is available. For additional ticket information, call 834-2800 ext. 500.