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Entertainment Highlights: Teens Take on Cole Porter Classic

  • Techie Spencer Niemi of Grafton works in the wings during rehearsal. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Techie Spencer Niemi of Grafton works in the wings during rehearsal. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The North Country Community Theater cast of Anything Goes sings their finale during a run-through of the production last Friday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    The North Country Community Theater cast of Anything Goes sings their finale during a run-through of the production last Friday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Molly Winer’s performance as Erma, not pictured, during a rehearsal of Anything Goes draws laughs from fellow cast members, left to right, Rose Munsey-Kavo of Lebanon, Alleigh Whiteside of Lebanon, Jaclyn Pageau of Lebanon and Emily Russell of Canaan. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Molly Winer’s performance as Erma, not pictured, during a rehearsal of Anything Goes draws laughs from fellow cast members, left to right, Rose Munsey-Kavo of Lebanon, Alleigh Whiteside of Lebanon, Jaclyn Pageau of Lebanon and Emily Russell of Canaan. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Alleigh Whiteside of Lebanon sings Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye during a North Country Community Theater rehearsal of Anything Goes for its 20th anniversary teen production. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Alleigh Whiteside of Lebanon sings Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye during a North Country Community Theater rehearsal of Anything Goes for its 20th anniversary teen production. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Techie Spencer Niemi of Grafton works in the wings during rehearsal. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • The North Country Community Theater cast of Anything Goes sings their finale during a run-through of the production last Friday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Molly Winer’s performance as Erma, not pictured, during a rehearsal of Anything Goes draws laughs from fellow cast members, left to right, Rose Munsey-Kavo of Lebanon, Alleigh Whiteside of Lebanon, Jaclyn Pageau of Lebanon and Emily Russell of Canaan. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Alleigh Whiteside of Lebanon sings Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye during a North Country Community Theater rehearsal of Anything Goes for its 20th anniversary teen production. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Anything Goes, Cole Porter’s musical set aboard a transatlantic booze cruise in the 1930s, depicts a whimsical world of arranged marriages, mistaken identifies and subterfuge. Very little in the show resonates with the North Country Community Theater teen ensemble that stages Anything Goes this weekend at the Lebanon Opera House.

The NCCT ensemble will perform the version of Anything Goes that was revived on Broadway in 1987, but the show is still representative of the era in which it was written and set. “The content is dated. It’s anachronistic,” admitted Hetty Thomae, a veteran NCCT director who is directing Anything Goes, her 14th teen show at NCCT. It’s also a dance-heavy show with plenty of slapstick humor and elements of vaudeville thrown in for good measure. And, Thomae added, “I think what’s really great about Anything Goes and teens is they’re getting exposure to Cole Porter,” one of the foremost composers in American history.

Performing Porter is a big change for Ali Coombs, a Lebanon High School senior who plays Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. “There are a lot of rhythm changes and meshing chords that a normal person wouldn’t write, but he did it in such a brilliant way that I think it really works,” she said.

Though Porter probably didn’t foresee it, Anything Goes has also become a lens through which to view life between the World Wars, when money was tight and the post-Prohibition booze flowed freely.

“It’s just really rich with trivia and culture and that’s quite fun to delve into,” said Garrett Inman, a junior at Lebanon High School who plays Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, one of the male leads. “It’s almost so dated that you have to take it with a grain of salt, but it’s not at all boring.”

There are several interconnected plots at play in Anything Goes. Sir Evelyn is engaged to Hope Harcourt, but it’s a societal marriage of convenience. Hope then meets and falls in love with up-and-coming Wall Street broker Billy Crocker, who sneaks onto the S.S. American to try and woo her. Meanwhile, Crocker’s gal pal Reno Sweeney, the nightclub singer on the ship, falls for Evelyn. They rub elbows with gangsters Moonface and Bonnie, and with the ladies from Priscilla Plumbottom’s Finishing School for Girls. All of the sub-plots “are very different from each other and they have a different focus … They all have their own spin going through the show,” Thomae said.

Helping to bring Anything Goes’ show-stopping dance numbers to life is Josh Feder, a Dartmouth graduate who has spent the last few summers as director of the New London Barn Playhouse’s junior intern company. At NCCT, Feder has had the formidable task of teaching about 60 young actors complex footwork. They dance to virtually every song in the show, including the nine-minute title number, and “not every 15-year-old who likes to sing has tap danced before,” he said. “You have to start small and grow and grow, just as the songs grow and grow and grow. Everything has to move toward something bigger.”

The teens who will dance on the opera house stage this weekend are the latest young adults to blossom under the NCCT umbrella. Anyone who shows up at auditions for the NCCT teen show is given a role or a slot on the technical crew, and an abundance of female actors this year led to the creation of ensembles that are unique to NCCT’s production of Anything Goes, like the finishing school students and The Park Avenue Red Hat Society.

The NCCT teen shows have allowed students from high schools around the Upper Valley and the occasional home-schooled student to not only show off their singing and dancing talents, but to befriend one another. The real payoff, Thomae said, is “for these kids to find each other and support each other.’’

Anything Goes premiered on Broadway in 1934, and its jovial vibe was embraced by a public struggling through the Great Depression. “It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s enjoyable,” Thomae said. “It’s this much-needed entertainment. They needed it and we need it.”

North Country Community Theater performs the 20th annual teen show, “Anything Goes” at 7 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, at 2 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Lebanon Opera House ($10-$15).

Best Bets

∎ Singer Harold Ford will pay tribute to the life and songs of Johnny Cash in “The Spirit of Johnny Cash” show at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Claremont Opera House. Ford performs with Laura Lucy as June Cash, and the Cash Band to recreate the music of The Man in Black ($25).

∎ Middle school musicians in the Upper Valley have had the opportunity over the last eight weeks to study wind instruments with members of the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Matthew Marsit. This period of intense study will culminate in a free concert by the Dartmouth Youth Wind Ensemble at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Top of the Hop, directed by Dartmouth senior Paul Finkelstein.

∎ Also at the Hop on Saturday, Anthony Princiotti directs the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra in a concert at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium with selections from Prokofiev and Beethoven, and featuring Dartmouth senior Cory Chang as soloist ($20-$29).

∎ The electronic duo Bastinado uses one-of-a-kind musical equipment like the tabletop synthesizer Reactable Live and the didgeridoo, a wind instrument used by Aboriginal Australians, to achieve a unique sound. The duo will play dance music at 9 p.m. Saturday at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, and DJ Shar4 will play opening and closing sets ($18; $15 with donation of nonperishable food for the Upper Valley Haven).

∎ The latest concert in Dartmouth’s free Chamberworks concert series will feature the members of Manchester’s Back Bay Guitar Trio performing solos and group pieces by the likes of Astor Piazzolla, Django Reinhardt and Dave Brubeck at 1 p.m. Sunday in Rollins Chapel.

Looking Ahead

James McMurtry, one of the most renowned singer-songwriters performing in the Americana genre, performs a solo show at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction at 8 p.m. on March 8. McMurtry has won a strong following with his songs depicting the lives and struggles of ordinary Americans; Stephen King has said that McMurtry “may be the truest, finest songwriter of his generation.” Stockbridge singer-songwriter Bow Thayer will open for McMurtry ($25).

Comedy

The Valley Improv comedy troupe will incorporate audience suggestions into their routine in a show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Mascoma Valley Regional High School that’s also a benefit for Mascoma’s football team and the Indian River School Parent Teacher Student Association ($8, adults; $4, students).

First Friday

White River Junction puts on its First Friday best starting at 4 p.m. tomorrow at locations throughout the village, including the Tip Top Building, Tuckerbox Café, and the Boho Café. Scheduled to perform are musicians Sam Moffatt, Frank Kelecy, Lisa Reeves and Second Wind, among others.

Benefits

The NEX (North East Xperiment) plays a show at the Lebanon Elks Lodge at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, a benefit for the Friends of Carson, an organization that helps grieving parents pay for children’s funerals ($10).

Folk

Lebanon singer-songwriter EJ Tretter performs pieces on the six and 12 string-guitars in tomorrow night’s installment of the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse, which begins at 7 in the basement of the Sunapee Methodist Church. A hat will be passed for the performer.

Rock

The Lyndonville, Vt., rock group The Summit of Thieves plays a show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph, in conjunction with the closing of the “20-30, 2D-3D” art show.

Dances

Gerry Grimo and the East Bay Jazz Ensemble will perform classic swing, big band and jazz standards in the “Cabin Fever Swing Dance” at the Newport Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Saturday ($16).

On Stage

Death By Golf, a comedy-cum-murder mystery about a retiree’s thwarted plans for an afternoon on the golf course, is a rare winter show for Bradford’s Old Church Community Theater. They’ll perform Death By Golf at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and at 4 p.m. Sunday at Alumni Hall in Haverhill ($10, adults; $5, students).

∎ Underneath the Lintel, playwright Glen Berger’s one-man show about a library book that’s returned 123 years late, and the librarian’s quest to learn about the borrower, is the current show at Shaker Bridge Theatre in Enfield. Directed by Shaker Bridge Artistic Director Bill Coons, Underneath the Lintel will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Whitney Hall Auditorium in Enfield ($25 adults, $20 students).

Bar and Club Circuit

Jason Cann performs at Harpoon Brewery in Windsor at 6 tonight and at Bistro Nouveau in Grantham at 6 tomorrow.

∎ The band Borderstone plays Jesse’s Restaurant in Hanover tomorrow night.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Lebanon has music from the rock trio The Conniption Fits at 9 p.m. tomorrow and acoustic rocker PJ Pacifico at 9 p.m. Saturday. Pacifico also performs at 9 p.m. tomorrow at Salt hill in Hanover.

∎ Acoustic musician Dave Bundza performs at Salt hill Pub in Newport at 9 p.m. tomorrow, and blues guitarist Will Michaels plays the pub at 9 p.m. Saturday.

∎ The Wall-Stiles play classic rock favorites at Salt hill Pub in Hanover at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

∎ Shepard’s Pie on Route 4 in Quechee features music from Two Random guys tomorrow and the bluegrass group Sweet Grass tomorrow. Both shows start at 7 p.m.

∎ The Peter Concilio Jazz Trio performs a tribute to Miles Davis at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

∎ Joice Marie performs covers at Juniper Hill Inn in Windsor at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Open Mics, Jams

Randy Miller, Roger Kahle and friends lead a session of traditional Irish music at 6 tonight at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

∎ Dave Clark of JukeJoynt hosts a weekly jam session at Canoe Club in Hanover at 8 p.m. Sundays. This week, the session will have a blues theme, as blues guitarist Arthur James is the guest musician.

∎ Tonight, Salt hill Pub in Lebanon has an open mic hosted by Seth Barbiero and Brian Warren from 8 to 11.

∎ Chad Gibbs hosts Salt hill Pub in Hanover’s open mic at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

∎ Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock has an open mic led by Brian Warren on Monday nights.

∎ Shepard’s Pie Restaurant on Route 4 in Quechee is the site of a Tuesday night open mic, starting at 6.

∎ The Colatina Exit in Bradford has an open mic on Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

∎ There’s an open jam every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 at Tuck’s Rock Dojo in Etna.

∎ Wednesday night is open mic night at Skunk Hollow Tavern. It’s led by Gregory Brown and starts at 8:30.

∎ Anthony Furnari hosts an open mic at Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Entertainment Highlights appears each Thursday. Email news of upcoming events to kbryan@vnews.com.