The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

‘Anything Goes’: A Look Backstage

The Performing Arts Department put on a spectacle that is the product of numerous early morning dance practices, day-long weekend rehearsals and hours of work for 47 students: the musical “Anything Goes.” From February 7 to February 9, these students have made huge time commitments— singing, dancing and acting from 3:30 to past 8 on school days, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and during lunches.

Revealed as this year’s musical in October and casted in late November, “Anything Goes” takes place aboard a ship headed from New York to London. Billy Crocker (senior Andrew Leidenthal), a young broker and one of the main characters, is in love with Hope Harcourt (senior Ellie Robertson). But with Harcourt already engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (senior Sam Gavenman), Crocker enlists the help of his two friends, Reno Sweeney (senior Alice Carli) and Moonface Martin (senior Mark Peng), to win her over.

“One of the main reasons we chose ‘Anything Goes’ is because a lot of the vocal parts fit the students that we have,” drama teacher Nancy Moran said. “It also incorporates a lot of acting and singing, and is a big dance show. The three of us (dance teacher April Oliver, Choral Department Director Mark Shaull and Moran) get to work on our disciplines very specifically, so it’s a fun show to do.”

The musical has a variety of roles, from an evangelist turned nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney, to a successful Ivy League Wall Street banker, Elisha Whitney (senior Anthony Mata). The uniqueness of each character has helped students discover and develop their on-stage personalities during rehearsals.
Sam, who is Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in the musical, sees his part as Hope Harcourt’s wealthy English fiancé as something interesting and refreshing because it sharply contrasts with his previous roles. Compared to his most recent role in Broken Box’s “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge, Sam’s character in “Anything Goes” calls for an entirely different set of acting skills.

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“I enjoy being the comedic relief,” Sam said. “In all of the parts that I’ve played in [Broken Box] … I play a character that is a dark, serious character. It’s fun to step out of my usual boundaries and step into a new persona.”

Senior Ally Bakos plays another unique character named Erma, described in the script as a “sexy gangster’s moll” and Moonface Martin’s sidekick. Erma spends the majority of her time in the musical chasing and flirting with the ship’s sailors.

“My character is very out there and definitely makes a point of having fun on the ship,” Ally said. “I would say my favorite part about Erma is that although she’s very flirty with the fellas, she makes it know that she’s also high class in her song ‘Buddie Beware.”’

The combination of acting, dancing and singing that the musical requires has given students the chance to explore different forms of performing arts that they otherwise would not have been able to delve into.

“I think that because a lot of our students focus on one discipline specifically, [the musical] exposes them to [all three performing arts],” Moran said. “If they’re not taking a class in one those disciplines, they’re not going to get that. So this gives them an opportunity to broaden their artistic horizons.”

Regardless of background, experience or role, every student in the production has had to put forth an incredible amount of time and effort over the past month.

Since the end of the Holiday Break, students have been rehearsing six days a week. Rehearsal has gradually grown from three hours a day to six or seven hours. During tech week (January 28 – February 6), students rehearsed seven hours or more every day.

“I’d say the pace that we have to go at [is the most difficult],” Sam said. “We do it in less than a month, so we just keep moving and putting things together really quickly.”

For some, rehearsals haven’t been limited to after school and on the weekends. Freshman Ryan Norton had a role that forced him to perfect and practice his part outside of his normal rehearsal times as well.

“I began to struggle with the dancing,” Ryan said. “I would have to get up around the start of zero period just to make sure I had everything down and work privately with the teachers in charge of the show. It put tremendous pressure on me because I began to realize that everyone could be completely ready even without me.”

Despite the challenge of having hours of rehearsal and learning new disciplines, many students have found the production process to be a memorable and valuable experience. For many, the experience of bonding and meeting with new people has been the most enjoyable.

“It’s the first time that I have ever gone out for anything like acting and it’s really been such an amazing experience so far,” Ryan said. “Everyone is just so fun to work with and be around. Practicing for the musical has been really interesting because when you’re working with a full production of very talented individuals, the magic of broadway sweeps you off your feet.”

Students put together the series of challenging dance numbers, unique instrumental arrangements and demanding song numbers on February 7, during the opening night of “Anything Goes” in the school’s Eagle Theatre.

“This is the momentous converging of the entire Performing Arts Department here at Los Altos,” Sam said. “All four departments are coming together and we put on something that is absolutely spectacular. We pour our hearts into it for a month, and it’s a great experience.”

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