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Anything goes at Camelot

Camelot Theatre Company's summer conservatory will serve up some bubbly, toe-tapping musical fun for its production of the Tony Award-winning musical farce "Anything Goes."

Set on an ocean liner, the S.S. American, as it journeys from New York City to London, the story follows the antics of stowaway Billy Crocker, who is in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. With the help of an evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney, a gangster named Moonface Martin and a lot of singing sailors, Crocker sets out to win Harcourt's heart.

"Anything Goes," with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman, opened in 1934 on Broadway. The musical has seen many revivals, including another on Broadway last year.

Camelot's production will feature 18 of its summer conservatory students, ages 9 through 17.

Shows are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 26, 2 and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 29, at the theater, 101 Talent Ave., Talent.

Full of big dance numbers, the show features classic Cole Porter songs such as "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," "De-Lovely," "I Get a Kick Out of You" and, of course, "Anything Goes."

Camelot's Conservatory Director Rebecca Campbell says the theater chose the show because it's a timeless musical.

"It's one of those iconic, old Broadway shows that we like to expose the kids to," she says.

With the plays many musical numbers, the conservatory's young performers have plenty of stage time and opportunities to showcase the results of six weeks of training.

"The progress they make is just astounding," Campbell says. "We work on the craft as well as the spectacle of theater. Students learn how to apply make-up, deal with costume difficulties and follow stage direction."

Students learn a somewhat rigorous work ethic along with the basics of theater performance. Classes run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday. Morning classes include acting, dance, voice and movement, followed by afternoon rehearsals.

"We work hard, and our kids take it seriously," Campbell says. "The scenes in this show just fly along. Our conservatory productions are very professional. We value our child performers as much as our adults. The end result is a solid production with very dedicated performers. The kids enjoy themselves, but they put in a lot of time."

One veteran conservatory student is 16-year-old Julia Holden-Hunkins, who plays Reno Sweeney. This year is her fifth in the conservatory.

"I'm learning how to stretch myself more, and it's a challenge," she says. "My role has a little more of an edge than I'm used to, so I've been working on giving it a little extra 'umph.' "

Holden-Hunkins says she decided she wanted to act after seeing Camelot's 2006 production of "1776." The following year, she enrolled in the conservatory and has been honing her craft since.

"The conservatory got me hooked. It has been so much fun," she says. "It's been cool watching the younger kids this year blossoming in theater and seeing how we can all put out something bigger than ourselves. The music is great and there is so much energy."

Lilli Shepherd plays the heiress Harcourt, Lucas Gandy is stowaway Crocker, Aubrey James Campbell is Bonnie and Preston Mead plays gangster Moonface Martin.

Music direction is by Karl Iverson of Camelot Theatre Company.

Tickets cost $12, $7 for students, and are available at the box office, online at www.camelottheatre.org or by calling 541-535-5250.

Julia Holden-Hunkins plays Reno Sweeney in Camelot Conservatory's 'Anything Goes.' - Photo courtesy of Camelot Theatre