Randi Kaplan, a senior at Clarkstown High School North, has “worked my way up” in four musicals in her high-school career.
She was a follies girl in “Crazy for You” as a freshman; one of the dancing girls in “Me and My Girl” as a sophomore; and the evil queen Fastrada in last year’s “Pippin.”
This year, though, she’s the top, she’s Reno Sweeney in Clarkstown North’s “Anything Goes.”
“It’s a very big role, but she’s a character similar to myself and I’ve always been a belter,” she says.
Kaplan had been in “Anything Goes” — but not as Reno — in a Clarkstown Summer Theatre Festival production a few years back, so she knew what she was in for when director Tim Reid announced the show.
Miguel de la Peña, not so much.
Director Reid has been pestering the 17-year-old senior to try out for his musicals for four years, but de la Peña has been busy writing his own music and with the school’s dance team.
This year, though, he said yes to the musical, his first.
“I thought, ‘Hey, last year, might as well try it,’” he says.
Without having to work his way up, without having to be an ensemble member, he landed the role of Billy Crocker, the male lead.
That’s the way it works sometimes, particularly if you’re a guy trying out for a girl-heavy high-school musical.
If Reid was nervous putting a newbie in a lead role, at least he knew what the part required: He played Billy in high school.
“It’s fun to revisit it,” Reid says.
De la Peña says he’s blessed to be sharing the stage with his friend, Caroline Trugman, who plays his love interest, Hope Harcourt.
“When we’re on stage, we just kind of know where things are going,” he says.
He says he was surprised by how much work being a lead character can be.
“I guess you never really know, until you’re in the shoes of the lead, how big the shoes are,” he says with a smile.
“You think they’ll fit and you put them on and it’s like ‘Whoa! There’s a lot of toe room.’ ”
Another newcomer to the Clarkstown North stage, although not to theater, is Ricky Scichilone, a 15-year-old freshman, who plays Moonface Martin, Public Enemy No. 13.
The gregarious Scichilone, who studied at New York City’s All the Buzz training facility years ago, has an interesting spin on the gangster, Moonface, a character of comic relief.
“I go for the Italian gangster,” he says, adding an accent for emphasis. “I start thinking about pizza and pasta and bada-bing, bada-boom, I just go.”
Trugman says she can relate to Hope, “who always wants to do the right thing and falls in love too easily.”
“Hope knows what she has to do and, lucky for everyone, they all get what they want,” she says. “Everyone is joyous in the end.”
After all, it is a musical, one full of great Cole Porter songs, from “You’re the Top” to “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” to the title tune.
The hard-working ensemble has been working on tap numbers under choreographer Erika Louiz.
“Anything Goes” is a popular choice of musical this year, with productions in Bronxville, Somers and North Rockland.
(In an interesting twist, North Rockland and Clarkstown North, schools just eight miles apart, have chosen the same musicals two years running. Last year, it was “Pippin”; this year, “Anything Goes.”)
But Kaplan’s grandmother isn’t going anywhere but Clarkstown North for her “Anything Goes.”
Grandma Kerner is coming up from Florida to catch Kaplan in her first leading role, the one she has worked her way up to.
“They’ve got their tickets already booked; everything’s planned,” Kaplan says.
<strong>What:</strong> “Anything Goes”
<strong>Where:</strong> Clarkstown High School North, 151 Congers Road, New City.
<strong>When:</strong> 8 p.m. March 12, 13, 19, 20.
<strong>With:</strong> Greg Carrobis, Reno Lenci, Sam Ritholtz, Justine Marks, Caroline Trugman, Randi Kaplan, Miguel de la Peña, Ricky Scichilone, Lindsey Sherman, Juno Arreglado, Alex Torma, Kellian Ribaudo, Remy Meisel, Adrianne Favorito, Faryn Corey, Dasha Akelin, Darian Marchetto, Jenna Handschuh, Abby Almonte, Dan Sinpelo, Louis Machicote, Vincent Barbetto, Nevin Najaroen, Melissa Hollander, Stephanie Duggan, Alana Corey, Megan Ryan, Lisa Trombetta, Sharon Kwong, Jillian Calero, Livia Wasserman, Caitlin Wolper, Josh Becker, Sean Ryan, Lindsay Wasserman, Laurel Brown, Ben Lawrence, Peter Schauer, Adina Luxemberg, Jared Black, Randi Bassik, Mathew Green, Francis Nimick, Gia Chawala, Sophia Chawala, Evan Farrel, Nicole O’Connor, Michael Wang, Joanne Abordo, Rachel Aguilar, Hyungjin Park, Dara Adib, Elizabeth Shaing, Nikki Shachmann, Stefan Lang, Josh Pleater, Nick Karl, Richard Gardon, Mark Haber, Rebecca Lo