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"Anything Goes" Musical Comedy at OWC Features Walton & Destin Actors

Mattie Kelly Arts Center

6/20/07 - NICEVILLE --- With show time just around the corner, local performers are eagerly rehearsing scenes from Cole Porter's "Anything Goes," this summer's large-scale musical production that will be presented July 18 to 21 at the Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center at Okaloosa-Walton College in Niceville. Tickets are now available at the box office by calling 729-6000. Theater students, seasoned community actors and theater professionals come together for this comedy, including several actors from Walton County.

"Anything Goes" is a lighthearted comedy that centers on the complicated love affairs between passengers aboard a cruise liner traveling from New York to London. "Anything Goes" features toe-tapping melodies, mobsters, show girls, debutantes, business men, and many disguises.

Bruce Culpepper, a professional actor from DeFuniak Springs, will take the stage in one of the production's lead roles as the character Elisha Whitney, a successful, but naive Wall Street banker. Rachael Jones of Freeport plays the lead role of Erma, a gangster's moll. Christian Hataway of Destin and Olivia Pooser of DeFuniak Springs both have supporting roles as passengers on the cruise liner where the musical takes shape. Zack Kennison and Tommy Serigne both of Ponce de Leon also join the cast in supporting roles.

As a lead, this will be Culpepper's fifth OWC production. Prior roles at OWC include a lead in the 2005 summer musical Annie Get Your Gun and Sprint Theater productions such as The Dinner Party, Twain by the Tale and the Merry Wives of Windsor.

Culpepper noted that OWC's world-class theater facility and professional personnel have helped him "hone my skills" as a professional actor. He is thrilled to once again take to the OWC mainstage. Culpepper recently appeared in "An Evening of Checkhov" at the Seaside Repertory Theatre and has also performed at the Pensacola Little Theater, Chipola College, the Act4Murder Dinner Theatre and many other regional venues.

Culpepper travels throughout the US performing and has appeared in a variety of television and film productions. He also created and plays the role of "Smart Cat," a feline test-taking expert, in Be an FCAT Smart Cat, an educational program designed to help school children improve their performance on the state's standardized test.

Olivia Pooser of DeFuniak Springs is a passenger in the Anything Goes musical. Pooser earned her Associate of Arts degree from OWC in May and has performed in theatre productions since she was very young. One of her previous roles was Mistress Mary in Babes in Toyland. For her, theatre is fun, especially with a great cast such as the more than 100 on-stage and behind the scenes theater pros who will help stage the OWC production.

Zack Kennison of Ponce de Leon plays the Purser of the ship. Kennison described his character as a "by-the-book person bent on keeping people pleased." Kennison said the musical features a number of well choreographed dance numbers. He said the show will be "a high-energy exhilarating performance that tells the story of love lost and love gained."

Kennison, a fine arts scholarship student, will start his second year at OWC in the fall. He is a member of Madrigals and Show Choir. "Anything Goes" is Kennison's second OWC summer musical production. Kennison plans to obtain a music degree and perform professionally.

Tommy Serigne, also of Ponce de Leon, plays a Chinese man named Luke in the musical. Serigne said his character is fun to portray because he gets to provide a multitude of comedic moments throughout the production. Serigne said, "If you want a glimpse of the 1930s, this is it." Serigne will be starting his second year at OWC in the fall.

Christian Hataway, of Destin, plays a sailor/passenger in the musical comedy. He is a senior at Fort Walton Beach High School and member of the Vahalla Chorus. Hataway said the production is very energetic and the choreography "fantastic". He plans to pursue a career in acting and photography.

Rachael Jones of Freeport plays Erma the Moll in "Anything Goes". Jones said her character is "vivacious and flirtatious, so I get to act a lot because she is so different from me." Jones said the OWC summer production "is a great experience for young performers." Jones is a fine and performing arts scholarship student at OWC and an active member of Madrigals and Show Choir.

"Anything Goes" is filled with twists and turns all wrapped around Cole Porter's original score including melodies such as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "It's De-Lovely," "Blow Gabriel Blow," "Easy to Love," and "Anything Goes." This hilarious musical will be presented in the 1987 contemporary Beaumont version which earned three Tony awards. This version features more dance numbers.

Since 1997, OWC has produced large-scale musicals on the main stage of the Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center to rave community reviews.

Tickets for the show are available by calling the box office at 729-6000 or online at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center web site at Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for youth 18 and younger.