Gonzalez is a hands-on director, a 2007 alum of Holy Family, who had worked on productions at the Bayonne Community Jewish Center before this, and came back not only to direct this production, but to work as a choreographer as well.
Theater runs in her family. Her father, Carl Gonzalez, who has directed theatrical works at Holy Family Academy and Bayonne High School, is an acting teacher and also directs at the Park Theater in Union City. Gonzalez said she has learned a lot from him about theater and production. In some ways, “Anything Goes” is also a production of the Gonzales family, since her sister Caroline plays one of the lead roles.
“I’m been involved in theater since the first grade,” said Caroline Gonzalez. Currently a senior at Holy Family, she hasn’t yet made up her mind on a career. “I originally thought about taking up musical theater, but…”
Her father, all too familiar with the hard life performing artists must endure, talked her out of it, although Caroline said she will continue to be involved in theater even after she goes to college.
Sandra Gonzalez, who also serves as track coach at HFA, said she selected the classic Cole Porter musical this year for several reasons.
“This has a lot of prominent roles for women and this is an all girls’ school,” she said. “Also we have six or seven seniors in this cast. Over the last three years, we have been doing modern musicals, and I wanted the girls to be familiar with a classic before they graduated.”
Although the original 1934 musical has been modified, it is still something of a spoof on the upper classes at a time when the world economy was in the pits. In this madcap adventure, a Wall Street broker, Billy Crocker, stows away on an ocean liner, only to fall in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is at that moment engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and gangster Moonface Martin help Billy to win Hope’s heart.
The musical features a number of classic songs such as "Anything Goes," "You're the Top," and "I Get a Kick out of You."
Joe Nicoletti, a senior at St. Peter’s Prep, plays Billy Crocker, one of the few male roles in the 30-person production. Nicoletti, who has been involved with other productions at HFA, said the most difficult part of the role was going through all the costume changes; he is often disguised.
Like his character, Nicoletti wants to have a career in business. “I’m very interested in world markets,” he said. Taylor Kemp, also a senior, plays Hope. She has been involved with other productions at HFA over her four years there.
“When I came to Holy Family, I didn’t know I could sing,” Kemp said. “The hardest thing for me was to cry on stage.” Dancing was less of a challenge because she—like Caroline Gonzalez—is a member of the Holy Family Dance Troupe.
Kemp has applied to Rutgers University and other schools with the aim of becoming a pharmacist.
Director Gonzalez said “Anything Goes” requires the students to tap dance, something that is unusual in the more modern musicals in which many have performed. She said that many of the students came to the school with training from some of the private dance schools in Bayonne, such as Dance with Me, so they have experience.
Caroline Gonzalez plays Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer and an old friend of Billy's. She said the role came naturally to her. “I’m a lot like the character,” she said.
She is very prominent in the performance of the song “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”
The musical starts at 8 p.m. on April 11, 12, and 13; and at 3 p.m. on April 14.
Tickets are $15 for patrons and $12 general admission. All seats are reserved. For more information or to order tickets go to http://www.hfa.bayonne.net/anythinggoes.htm
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org