What could be tougher than frantically tap dancing and singing one’s way through one of the more classic scenes in Columbus East High School’s latest musical?
Maybe smiling broadly while completing all of the above — and looking as if you’re hardly breaking a sweat.
Delaney Jackson, who plays the female lead of Reno Sweeney, can tell you. She’s among 10 student dancers rhythmically clicking and clacking to the title cut of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” a show unfolding Friday through Sunday at the school’s Clarence E. Robbins Auditorium on Marr Road.
“Honestly,” Jackson said with a laugh, “there have been days when the song seems like running a marathon. Of course, it’s only a five-minute song. But it seems so much longer.
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“You’ve got to be able to go from the singing to the dancing — and back to the singing, then back to the dancing, and again back to the singing. It’s all about practicing and building up your stamina.”
In other words, ditch the idea that anything goes with such a scene in a humorous show that revolves around the crazy antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker (Noah Shoaf) is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt (Julie Connor), who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Ethan Patchett).
Amid a plot that navigates troubled waters, some students hope that artful distraction can serve as a safety-valve backup of sorts when it comes to their challenging tap number.
Jenna Abraham, an experienced ballet dancer with Dancers Studio Inc. in Columbus, is among those.
“It’s been a major roadblock for me to learn to be comfortable on stage (with tap dancing),” Abraham said. “There are still some parts where I am just really smiling and hoping the audience will be looking at my face and not my feet.”
Choreographer Martha Parshall Richards has put her more experienced tappers front and center, and those with less seasoning in a bit of a backing role, lest they feel as unsteady as a seasick sailor in the show.
“We’ve really been working with three different levels (of dancers),” Richards said. “We’ve got some people facing their first time ever on stage.”
Richards pointed out that although the school boasts it share of talented and athletic students who probably could make great tappers, fitting rehearsals into their schedules already committed to sports and a range of other activities can be tough.
Rissa Towsley has been tap-dancing since she was 8 years old, learning the style at Sonya’s Dance Zone locally.
“The dancing is something I know fairly well,” Towsley said. “The singing is something I’ve never done before. I’ve still got to work on that a little bit.”
Others are learning far more than footwork. A tuxedo-clad Loryn Weddle is playing a male part as New York gangster Moonface Martin. Although it was tough to miss her lengthy eyelashes and feminine facial features without stage makeup at a recent rehearsal, she’s up for the challenge.
“I’ve always played characters like the girlie roles in the ensemble,” Weddle said. “So, I’m not only taking on a bigger role, but I’ve got to act like a man with this kind of fake aura about me.”
What: Columbus East High School’s production of Hoosier native Cole Porter’s musical, “Anything Goes.”
Storyline: Revolves around the crazy antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Principal cast: Delaney Jackson as Reno; Noah Shoaf as Billy; Julie Connor as Hope; Ethan Patchett as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh; Lauren Wagner as Erma; Loryn Weddle as Moonface Martin; Ava Osowick as Mrs. Harcourt; and Colton Graffa as Elisha Whitney.
Where: Clarence E. Robbins Auditorium, 230 S. Marr Road in Columbus.
Admission: Suggested donation of $8 per person.
Notable tunes: The title song, “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “You’re the Top.”
Information: Facebook page at Columbus East Theatre.