The Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute celebrated its 10th anniversary on opening night last Friday with a first-rate production of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes ” at the Seahawk Cultural Center at Hilton Head High School.
SSTI participants — performers, musicians, technicians and staff — carried off a jaw-dropping opening-night performance. The show, directed and choreographed by Tony Spinosa, runs through July 2, so you must book your tickets for one of the remaining performances quickly.
All of the elements of professional musical theater are simply spot-on in this Cole Porter favorite.
You likely remember the classic, complicated storyline of “Anything Goes.” Wall Street banker Billy Crocker is a stowaway on board The SS American, sailing from New York to London, because he is in love with heiress, Hope Harcourt, whom he wants to marry but whom he finds is about to marry the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Both are on board the ocean liner.
The musical evening is rife with Cole Porter favorites, which will charm and delight, start to finish. Well-known melodies flow as the talented leads and ensembles see to the generous staging of the musical numbers. “Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Easy to Love,” “Friendship,” “Blow Gabriel, Blow” and “The Gypsy in Me” just keep coming. From tender solos to sailor chanties and from smoldering torch songs to hilarious comedic gambols, the show totally entertains with a capital “E.”
The Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute, founded by program director Benjamin Wolfe, is a destination musical theater training program for exceptional young performers from across the globe. This production brought close to 80 performers, technical personnel and staff from 25 states and four countries to Hilton Head Island.
After an extensive online audition process, those selected from among more than 200 applicants began by attending a kind of “baptism by fire,” three-week rehearsal period led by the SSTI professional faculty and staff from Broadway stages and others around the country. The early rehearsal period then moved toward the preparation and staging of a serious, full-scale musical. The cast and technical support of “Anything Goes” kicked off with a general preparation in October, then focused on readying their specific roles and responsibilities in April. It was just two weeks ago that they all arrived on Hilton Head Island to begin their careful preparation.
The opening night production seemed to flow as impressively as planned and as smoothly as The SS American on a rising tide.
Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
- What: “Anything Goes”
- When: June 30 and July 1 and 2, 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. matinee
- Where: Seahawk Cultural Center on the campus at Hilton Head High School
- For more information: Call 866-749 2228 or email HHISummerMusicals.com
Southeastern Summer Theater Institute’s “Shear Madness,” America’s longest-running play, will run July 18 through Aug. 6 at the Main Street Theatre. Blake White, founding artistic and executive director of the Lean Ensemble Theater of Hilton Head, will direct this piece, which is also known as “America’s favorite comedy.”