PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle High School Shipmates’ Playhouse is ready to set sail with its fall musical, “Anything Goes.”
Premiering Friday night at the PIHS auditorium, “Anything Goes” tells the story of the SS American, which sails from New York to England carrying an unusual group of passengers.
Among them are a gangster, Moonface Martin, a debutante and her mother, Hope and Evangeline Harcourt, a nightclub singer and a wealthy New York businessman and his stowaway assistant. Leslee Mahon is co-directing the musical with Jennifer Bourassa.
The musical involves a series of comedic happenings.
It has been years since Mahon directed the Shipmates’ musical, so she chose one she was familiar with.
“I first attended this musical when I was younger and Joe Zubrick directed it at the University of Maine at Presque Isle,” Mahon said. “It has always been one of my favorite musicals because it is funny, creative, and Cole Porter’s music is amazing. I remember seeing Joe tap-dancing as a sailor, and I sang the songs for weeks after attending.
Zubrick also is involved in this year’s production, as he returns as the set director.
“Basically, we have what’s called a ‘unit set,’ a single setting for multiple purposes,” he said. “We do also have some shuttle stages, which roll into place from offstage to further isolate the action.”
The shuttles include an interior cabin, a brig and the crew’s quarters, complete with bunk beds.
According to music director Jay Nelson, “Anything Goes” is a classic “old-school musical.”
“It rotates between solos, duets, smaller group and full ensemble numbers throughout the show, and they range from very serious to extremely comedic,” he said. “It is doubtful that younger folks would know many of these classic songs.
“However, any Cole Porter fans would know such gems as ‘It’s Delovely,’ ‘I Get a Kick out of You,’ ‘All Through the Night’ and ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow,’” he said. “Some may even know the title song, ‘Anything Goes.’”
Nelson said the musical would appeal to audience members of all ages.
He said many of the songs come from the operetta tradition, mixing singing with spoken lines. The songs begin with a freely sung section, or recitative, and move into the fully sung portion, the aria.
So many students auditioned for this year’s production that there are two casts.
“We had so many capable students audition for the musical that we decided to double-cast the show,” said Mahon. “I have always been a proponent of double-casting, because it gives more performers a chance to play principal roles and ensemble roles. I believe it develops camaraderie in the cast.
“This year, we have a blue and white cast to represent our school colors,” she said. “Presque Isle High School is full of talented students, and it is an honor to work with these performers and watch them develop into characters to entertain our community.”
Rehearsals have been going well, Mahon said.
“The students are wonderful onstage,” she said. “At the beginning of rehearsals, these kids were learning choreography from Colleen DuPlissie and the temperature was almost 95 degrees in the auditorium. Not one of the students complained, and they worked diligently through the heat.
“This is going to be a great show,” she said. “These students are not only vocally talented, but they can dance and act. It’s the trifecta of theater.”
Performances for the blue cast are 7 p.m. Nov. 12 and 20 and 2 p.m. Nov. 13. The white cast will take to the stage at 7 p.m. Nov. 13, 18 and 19. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors and are available at the PIHS main office, at Goin’ Postal and at the door.