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See hijinks at sea as Saanich students stage Broadway classic Anything Goes

Claremont musical theatre dances through Cole Porter classic starting May 23

Claremont secondary musical theatre sets sail aboard the ocean liner SS American as 80 students stage Anything Goes.

With a cast of 50, an orchestra of 10, and 20 crew the theatre students in Grades 9 through 12 have worked since February to bring the Cole Porter classic Anything Goes to Ridge Playhouse.

“Everyone should come see this show, because it is seriously entertaining. Everyone involved has put so much effort into making the show enjoyable, and I think we delivered. There’s even tap dancing,” said Oliver Paxman, who plays Billy Crocker.

Anything Goes follows nightclub singer/evangelist Reno Sweeney en route from New York to England. Her pal Billy Crocker has stowed away to be near his love, Hope Harcourt, but the problem is Hope is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Joining this love triangle on board the luxury liner are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin and his sidekick-in-crime Erma. With the help of some elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors and good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart.

Abbie Mellings, who plays Hope, promises a fun show with great musical numbers and funny moments. Proud of her peers on stage, the hijinks of the production on stage are not to be missed.

The cast and crew are part of the musical theatre course at Claremont, but beyond that the show is a culmination of hundreds of hours of work over several months, said director Colin Plant, who marks 25 years teaching the course this year.

“While we may not be Broadway performers yet, these young performers have the energy, enthusiasm and passion that is unmatched on any stage. For schools, musical theatre is about much more than simply preparing students for a career in the fine arts. It is about creating a well-rounded person,” Plant said.

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It’s a sentiment that resonates with the students. Mellings said musical theatre is a welcoming and safe environment.

“I can walk into the theatre and be myself and I know I’ll get along with everyone. Musical theatre has always been the most fun class I’ve taken and all the teachers really add to that. The experiences we get to learn from thanks to the teachers are really what makes musical theatre the class that it is,” Mellings said.

That community stands out for Paxman as well.

“Performing is one of my favourite things in the world, and to be able to do that with friends that feel the same way, is truly amazing,” he said.

It also affords an abundance of life skills, said Plant, who feels every student should be in a musical theatre at some point.

“We embrace diversity and are inclusive to all participants who wish to be in our program, and we support creative problem-solving every day,” Plant said. “The lessons we take away from our program are those which transfer very well to the ‘real world’ where we need these future citizens and leaders to be able to adapt and work with others respectfully and effectively.”

Anything Goes is on stage in Ridge Playhouse, 4980 Wesley Rd. May 23 to 25 and May 29 to June 1 nightly at 7 p.m. with additional 1 p.m. matinees on May 25 and June 1.

Get tickets online at

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