St. Catherine Catholic School students perform “Anything Goes”

Published in the November 7 – 20, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

St. Catherine students perform Cole Porter’s musical “Anything Goes.”
Photos by Marty Cheek

Entertaining audiences with song and dance as wells as witty wisecracks, 120 students at St. Catherine Catholic School performed “Anything Goes,” a Cole Porter musical about the madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. The school are doing three performances Nov. 16-18 in the parish auditorium.

Eighth-grader Colin Bailey, 14, plays Billy Crocker, a young Wall Street broker who stows away on the ship SS American after he falls in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, played by eighth-grader Ryleigh Etie, 14. But complications in their romance arise. An evangelist turned nightclub singer and a third-rate gangster in hiding provide plenty of humorous assistance to Billy in his quest to win Hope. The 1934 musical was a Broadway hit and introduced to the American public songs “Anything Goes,” “You’re the Top”, and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

“Billy Cocker finds this girl called Hope who he’s in love with and it’s just an amazing adventure,” Bailey said. “The show is enjoyable to perform and it’s enjoyable for everyone in the audience to see. They’ll be amazed by what these young kids can do. Their voices are so good.”

Bailey has performed in several St. Catherine productions since he was in the fourth grade. He started with the show “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

He enjoys the camaraderie of working with others to put on a production as well as learning about theater.

“You find more and more plays to do, like this one,” he said. “I’ve never heard of this play.”

Etie describes the story as a romantic comedy where Crocker and her “upper-crust” character Hope have a seemingly doomed romance with the other characters creating plenty of comical twists to keep the audience laughing.

“They both kind of love each other but it’s really confusing because there’s a ton of other characters putting their heart into the play, so that makes it confusing, I guess,” she said. “Hope Harcourt is proper. She was raised properly. I mean, kind of like in the 1920s they participated in high society.”

Eighth-grader Olivia Cordoba, 13, plays Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, Hope’s haughty and overbearing mother, who pushes her to marry Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, a wealthy and stuffy English aristocrat played by Alex Flores. She is seeking financial security for herself and her daughter at the cost of Hope finding true love.

“The storyline is that we lost our money with the stock market crash, and I’m really all about having Hope marrying a rich man like Evelyn,” she said.

Eighth-grader Alexander Provenzano, 13, plays “Moonface” Martin, a mobster described by the FBI as “Public Enemy Number 13.” Throughout much of the play, he is disguised as a man of the cloth to evade the FBI. Billy Cocker inadvertently helps him when a misunderstanding happens early in the story. Martin teams with Reno Sweeney, played by Jodi Fields, to help Billy and Hope deal with their romance challenges.

“I sneak around the ship,” Provenzano said. “I’m a runaway because I’m a gangster wanted in America trying to escape to England.”

Provenzano enjoys being in the show. “Everyone is really supportive of what you get as a role. It’s really fun to be on stage and it’s your time to shine,” he said.

Several St. Catherine students perform as the dancing “angels,” in the show. Eight-grader Morgan Raak, 13, one of the angels, described the role as one requiring plenty of choreography practice to get the dance steps in synch.

“We’re kind of like backup dancers for the main character, but in a more, like, groovy way,” she said. “It’s really fun because we get to be involved with everyone else and learning specific dance moves is really fun. It’s a lot of fun participating and everything.”

Presley Malech, a 12-year-old seventh grader, plays another angel and said putting on the show with the other students has been an exciting experience for her.

“I like the people that you get to work with behind the scenes and stuff because they’re really fun.”

Another angel, Mia LoNardo, a 13-year-old eighth grader, agrees.

“It’s just fun once you learn the dances and doing it over and over again,” she said. “The best part is just performing at the end when you know how to do everything and going through the play without stumbling.”

Also playing an angel, Kaitlyn Wegel, a 13-year-old eighth grader, has been in many St. Catherine productions since she was in kindergarten nine years ago. Among them were “Beauty and the Beast,” “Annie,” “Bye-Bye, Birdie,” “High School Musical,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Camp Rock.

She likes showing off her singing, dancing and acting talents for the enjoyment of friends and family, she said.

“We can have an extra thing for fun. It’s fun because we get to learn dance moves and have costumes and stuff.”

Eighth grader Olivia Handa, 13, has fun as an angel, too. The show has helped her get to know other students because it brings the entire school together for a celebration through musical theater.

“I’ve met a lot of people in school like in different grades that I wouldn’t be friends with if I hadn’t done the show,” she said. “A lot of people are in the show.”

Another angel is eight-grader Chandler Kirk, 13, who feels encouraged by the adults assisting the students to create the show.

“The directors are really nice and they’re helpful in teaching us all the dance moves and choreography,” she said. “And they let us have a lot of opportunities to be on stage.”

In her 20th year putting on productions at the St. Catherine, Kris Heiser served as the “Anything Goes” producer.

“She is also a full-time middle school social studies teacher who inspires her students by making learning fun, relevant, and rigorous,” said Rachel Bliss, in charge of publicity for the show. “She empowers her students to collaborate, be creative, and persevere when things get tough.”

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek