Retro Knollwood Show Time

“Times have changed,” as the lyrics to Cole Porter’s Anything Goes go …

Yes they have. And they haven’t.

The shows are still going on, but they’re quite different types of productions. The students at Fair Haven’s Knollwood School have staged Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.  The show went on in the beginning of the month.

And, way back in 1974, the school’s second ever musical was staged with the middle schoolers. You guessed it. It was Anything Goes.

Yes, times have changed, and mostly because these days they actually have junior versions of otherwise adult-like shows that aren’t really all that adult.

In fact, in those days, nothing was thought of doing a pretty darn adult musical that starred a, ahem, “lady of the evening” turned evangelist, a gangster and his maul, a stowaway, an heiress and a kooky English gentleman all aboard a ship and involved in madcap farce and love triangles.

Who knew? Well, the 1974 cast  of Knollwood’s version of Anything Goes certainly didn’t.

A 13-year-old yours truly was cast as Reno Sweeny, the bawdy nightclub singer with a sinner’s past (Oh, well). And when the audition song is I Get a Kick Out of You, an eighth grader just sings it, thinks it sounds pretty but is clueless about its meaning — unless she is singing to David Cassidy or wants to relate it to a missed slow dance with the popular dude in the gym.

The coolest, most popular girl in school, Kate Hamilton, was cast as gangster Moonface Martin’s sidekick, a/k/a, gun maul. And Moonface, Public Enemy #1 was longtime Fair Havenite Calvin Williams.

The heiress was played by Kim Townshend (Yes, the sister of longtime Fair Haven Police Lt. Bob Townshend).

Oh, and there are many more who were in the cast with remaining ties in town, if not themselves.

The young cast of Anything Goes at Knollwood, after daily song, dance and acting rehearsals, clad in their parents’ dress clothes, pretty ugly shoes and costume jewelry, cut through the adolescent clique mystique and developed bonds that are still holding strong. That’s the magic of show biz, kids.

Couple that will some growing pains to commiserate over, good times (like post-rehearsal Fair Haven Dock jumps) to reminisce about after all was performed and done. There was that enter stage left door, exit stage right, song, dance, costume changes aaaaaanddd curtain. It’s a growing on with the show experience not forgotten. Yes, I said growing on with the show. Growing.

There was lime green eyeshadow aplenty, handmade satin costumes, ostrich feathers, headbands, feather boas, big hats, tripping over Mom’s big shoes in those big numbers.

I can still see Mary Croft sitting in the orchestra pit (that only had a piano played by Janice Kurika, then Lawlor) ringing a bell during the Friendship number and whistling for me as I went through the motions, cause I may have been a little girl with some big pipes for belting out song, but I couldn’t whistle to save my life.

I remember how the cast filed in on the right side of the all purpose room to get set for curtain time and how a couple of “adult” songs were cut. Yet, somehow, they left Let’s Misbehave in! I remember that final bow on that first stage. Most of us remember. We remember how we grew on with the show and still smile over it all.

In true Cole Porter fashion, we still get a kick out of ourselves and that’s a good thing. Just don’t ask us to repeat that kick line at this age.

We all walked down the middle of Hance Road singing Anything Goes all the way to Kim Townshend’s house for a cast party back in 1974.

Yes, times have changed … or have they?


John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management