Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

April 13-15: Springstead High stages 'Anything Goes'; Weeki Wachee High stages 'Into the Woods'


One production is a classic musical filled with love, romance and a possible happy ending. The other is a fractured fairy tale that tells a story of what happens after the "happily ever after."

Theatergoers are in for a treat this weekend, with a chance to see two very different high school productions as Springstead High School presents Anything Goes, and Weeki Wachee High School presents Into the Woods.

Both shows kick off tonight and continue through Sunday.

'Anything Goes'

Many people are familiar with Cole Porter's Anything Goes. The story is set on an ocean liner, where stowaway Billy Crocker hopes to win the heart of the girl he loves, the wealthy socialite Hope Harcourt. Unfortunately, Hope is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

"It is like a 1930s Love Boat," said Springstead High drama and choral director Mark Pennington. "There are a lot of funny situations they get into."

Senior Mike Killory, 18, finds his role as Billy Crocker a fun one with challenging songs.

"He is funny and a ladies' man," Killory said. "He is always trying to find a way for (Billy and Hope) to be together and to bust up the wedding."

Junior Brittany Burdette stars as Billy's friend Reno Sweeney, who helps Billy in his attempts to break up Hope and Evelyn.

"Reno is the sexy evangelist," Burdette said. "She's supposed to preach, but is a little naughty about it. . . . She is such an influential and powerful character."

As Hope, 15-year-old sophomore Amanda Hartzell has a lot on her plate. Not only does she perform her first kiss on stage, but must "kiss Billy at least three times," she said.

"There's so many things going on with Hope," Hartzell said. "She's innocent and cries a lot. She's engaged to Evelyn, but also is in love with Billy. . . . She's an emotional wreck."

The show will include plenty of dancing and singing. It boasts a cast of more than 40, and includes a live 18-piece orchestra.

"It's a great show," Pennington said. "We have a great set and professional costumes from New York. We're excited."

'Into the Woods'

Into the Woods is lesser known but equally exciting. With music composed by Stephen Sondheim, the show, which premiered on Broadway in 1987, is based on a Grimm's fairy tale.

The story includes a number of familiar fairy tale characters, such as the Baker and his wife, Cinderella and her Prince Charming, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. Though the characters are familiar, there is a twist as to how their lives change after the "fairy tale" ends. Cinderella, for instance, becomes ambivalent as her prince has a roaming eye. Red Riding Hood becomes bloodthirsty. There is also a twist on the Baker and his wife, who long for a child — at least in the first act.

"She becomes promiscuous in the second act," said junior Sabrina Luescher, 17, of her role as the Baker's Wife. "She pulls me in different directions. . . . It's really a lot of fun."

In fact, the Baker's Wife has a romantic scene with Cinderella's prince, played by sophomore Christian Braz, 16, who also plays the Wolf.

"It was difficult to develop two totally different characters," Braz admits. "One is really creepy and is creeping up on Little Red. Then there is the Prince, who is cocky, arrogant and pretty much a player."

The different fairy tale characters' lives become intertwined in the first act when the Baker and his wife learn the evil Witch, through a curse, is the cause of their infertility. Preying upon their desire for a child, the Witch is able to use the couple to get what she wants.

"I've never really played a character this intense," said Weeki Wachee junior Hannah Vandigriff, 17, of her role as the Witch. "She is mean, crude and disgusting, and is making sure she takes everyone down with her to get what she wants."

Vandigriff said her favorite scene is when she performs The Witch's Rap.

"It's the reason I auditioned," she said.

The show is co-directed by Keith Meccia and Morgan Burburan, Weeki Wachee High's director of choirs and musical theater. The production includes live music with about a dozen school and community performers in the pit.

"(Into the Woods) has such depth of character and a storyline that goes across the generations," Burburan said. "It reaches you in different ways at different ages. Each generation gets something different."

"At first, I thought it was a dark show, but it has a good moral," said the show's producer, Nicki Helsley, who is the booster club president for the school's vocal and theater department. "It is an intense show, and the difficulty level is high. . . . The kids are doing great and have worked really hard."

Burburan agreed.

"They really stepped up to the challenge and exceeded my expectations," she said.

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Published: 11/23/17