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'Anything Goes' at Gresham High Nov. 13-22

Madcap musical set aboard ocean liner

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Senior Madisen Hallberg is Reno Sweeney in 'Anything Goes,' opening Nov. 13 at  Gresham High School.Sara Eakman, says taking on the role of mild mannered Hope Harcourt in the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes” presents a slightly different challenge than some of her previous roles.

“It’s the hardest for me to play a character who is similar to me,” says the Gresham High School senior, adding her own personality is the opposite of over the top. “Coming up with another kind of normal ... is harder than knowing you can be big and loud and eccentric.”

Set aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London, “Anything Goes” tells the story of Billy Crocker, a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, fiancée of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy No. 13 Moonface Martin help Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical features famed Porter tunes like “ “You’re the Top,” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

Gresham High will present the play Nov. 13-22.

Much like Kate Winslet’s character Rose in the 1997 movie “Titanic,” Hope Harcourt has fallen for a man she can’t have, Eakman notes. Unlike “Titanic,” however, “Anything Goes” won’t leave the audience with a sinking feeling.

“This is a very fun show with fun musical numbers, plot twists and disguises,” Eakman says, a point echoed by fellow cast member Claire Corbett, a senior who plays Moonface’s girlfriend, Bonnie.

“It is a laugh out loud comedy with excellent dance numbers that are full of energy,” Corbett says. Despite her character’s outlaw ways, “she’s more goofy than evil. I kind of see her as a criminal version of Marilyn Monroe, but she’s a lot more annoying than that.”

“Anything Goes” also gives cast members an opportunity to share their soles with the audience, as it features tap dancing.

“It’s been really tricky for me because I’m not a good dancer,” she says. However, she’s confident “the audience will love it because it looks really really hard, even if you’re doing simple steps.”

Speaking of taking on new challenges, Gresham senior Madisen Hallberg, 17, says performing the role of evangelist-turned-lounge singer Reno Sweeney is “definitely one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever had.”

Hallberg says she’s a bit of an introvert, whereas her character is decidedly not. In order to get into her character, she tries to imagine herself as a peacock and focuses on showing off her character’s plumage of personality.

“She’s like the biggest thing in the room,” Hallberg says of Reno. “Everyone looks at her.”

Like Corbett, Hallberg finds the show’s tap dance numbers riveting.

“Your feet are like an instrument, and you have to do different moves and different patterns,” she says.

All in all, “Anything Goes” is anything but boring.

“It’s an entertaining as it can get,” Hallberg says.

If you go

WHAT: “Anything Goes”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13-22

WHERE: Gresham High School, 1200 N. Main Ave.

COST: $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Groups of 15 or more can get $1 off each ticket, and groups of 30 or more can get $2 off each ticket.

INFO: 503-674-5500