Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford opened in the fall of 2010. Rather than putting on an easy show their first spring, they pulled out all the stops and did LES MISERABLES for goodness sake. What high school does that? Then again, what community theater does that? Usually that one is saved for the professionals. Even though it’s been open less than two years, Pope John Paul II High School has now fully established itself as one of the pre-eminent places to see theater in this area. If you go expecting a run-of-the-mill, low-frills show, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. This year’s ANYTHING GOES is simply a smash.
PJPII double casts the leads, which gives more students the chance to star, as they alternate the six performances. Opening night starred Mia Borelli (Reno Sweeney), Emma Majewski (Hope Harcourt), Brad Dalton (Billy Crocker), Brandon Commo (Moonface Martin), Meghan Cable (Erma), Lucas Saiter (Evelyn Oakleigh), Lindsay Miller (Evangeline), and Brian McCluskey (Elisha Whitney).
I had a big smile on my face the whole night, because these kids came out and nailed it. Starring in ANYTHING GOES requires you to drop the inhibitions, not be shy, and just go for it. Commo, Saiter, and McCluskey especially had me in hysterics at times. Saiter, in particular, gives a British accented delivery during “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” that was priceless. I couldn’t get over how natural they all came across on stage, like they were meant to be there.
In alternating performances, ANYTHING GOES stars Brooke Petery (Reno), Kathleen DeOrio (Hope), Georgie Nave (Billy), Rohan Basuthakur (Moonface), Alyssa Evans (Erma), Lenny Martelli (Evelyn), Rebecca Smith (Evangeline), and Jimmy Lewis (Elisha).
Cole Porter’s musical can get generic very quickly. This group adds the details to make it authentic, from the thrown ribbons while sailing away in “Bon Voyage”, to the lights on inside the ship during sunset in “Easy to Love”, to the old-looking suitcases in “You’re the Top”, to the sailors with tattoos (I’m pretty sure they were all fake!).
Putting on a production of this caliber requires hours upon hours of work, not just from the students and parent volunteers. The mother-daughter team of director/choreographer Marusia Griffin Lynn and musical director Eleanor Griffin clearly love what they do and model that for the kids. The iconic tap dance in the title song alone showcases what musical theater means for this school. To have every single one of those kids tapping away (including 6th-grader David Machon) is a testament to Mrs. Lynn’s hard work and devotion.
PJPII keeps setting the bar higher and higher, and I can’t wait to see what they put on next year. If the first two years are any indication, they have a wonderful future in the theater community.
Original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
New book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Directed by Marusia Griffin Lynn
March 16-24, 2012
Pope John Paul II High School
181 Rittenhouse Road
Royersford, PA 19468