JHS Spring Musical “Anything Goes”

As the cast and crew of the spring musical will tell you, “anything goes” when it comes to love on the high seas!

Playing through Sunday afternoon at Jenison High School, Anything Goes is a Tony Award-winning production featuring the music of Cole Porter and enough dancing to keep the boat rocking and your toes tapping.

Mr. Todd Avery, directing his 40th show in Jenison since 1995, thrives on the lights and pre-show jitters. “As an actor, there’s no other place I feel more comfortable–it’s such a natural fit. I love to help kids feel the same thing and have fun in the process.”

Mr. Avery gives his thanks to Mr. Zamborsky, Mr. Scott, Mr. Dracht, and Mr. Veeneman for their tireless efforts converting the high school auditorium from a blank canvas to a two-story ship complete with a raised orchestra “pit”. Along with a crew of dedicated fathers, Mr. Avery estimates that more than 125 hours went into designing, building, and painting the set!

Preparing to grace the stage this week is a cast of forty students ready to shine. We had the opportunity to talk to three of the lead characters earlier this week and were inspired by their passion for this project.

Christian Reed is a senior playing Billy Crocker. Although he’s played football and has enjoyed the thrill that comes with working in front of crowds, Christian said being active in the school theater is a new kind of experience he’s come to love.

“Having played football, you start to think that there’s no other moment like being under the lights…but I found it again in theater. It gives me chills–I just love expressing myself on stage.”

Emily Ambs, also a senior, plays the role of Reno Sweeney, a woman pining for Billy’s attention (Christian’s character). Emily has long been a dancer and musician, but acting was a risk that was difficult for her to take. She tried out for her first play just last year, but now says it’s something she can’t imagine not doing.

“Adding acting to music and dance pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I did it. The best part has been all the new friends I’ve made; everybody’s so accepting in theater. It’s awesome.”

She adds that because of their families’ shared friendship, Mr. Avery is like a second father who’s given her the confidence to try new things. She credits him with her foray into acting and is grateful for the gentle push that helped her stretch her wings.

Playing British Lord Evelyn Oakleigh is junior Ben Avery. He shared that being involved in theater was not so much a risk for him as it was a coming home of sorts.

“For me theater is not about pushing me out of my comfort zone–it’s actually where I’m the most comfortable.”

Ben has already given thought to pursuing theater after graduation, astutely pointing out that stage work can prepare individuals for all kinds of real-world experiences by equipping them to work with others, improvise, problem solve, and think creatively.

Ben also appreciates deeply the way his father, Director Todd Avery, has inspired him to run headlong into acting without second guessing himself.  “I was practically born here, ” he quipped, referring to Jenison’s stage, adding, “I’m very proud of my dad–I’ve always looked up to him.”

We’re proud of the entire cast and applaud the efforts of everyone who has given of themselves to make Anything Goes a reality this spring.

We hope you’ll join us in the audience for one of the remaining shows!

Thursday, March 22 – Saturday, March 24: shows at 7 pm

Sunday Matinee: 2:30 pm

Tickets are available at the door or by calling 457-6110

$10: adults, $8: students/senior citizens, $6: children under 10.

11 comments on “JHS Spring Musical “Anything Goes”

  1. Jenison is very blessed to have such outstanding talent in their theater and music departments. Todd Avery is a light in this community of students and the larger community of Jenison. The other music directors and the talent and heart coming from the adults who give of their time is something that cannot be measured. But it is surely felt very strongly in the obvious love for theater and each other, shared on and off stage. And the students have put on one extraordinary show! Amazing job!

  2. “Anything Goes” is probably the best high school musical I have ever seen! A great cast of very talented individuals! I highly recommend it! Really enjoyed it! Thanks to Todd Avery and all the cast for their hard work.

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