Mt. Hebron’s spring musical “Guys and Dolls,” directed by Math teacher Mr. Tom Sankey, debuted on March 12 and continued attracting large audiences on March 13, 17, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m.
The musical, which first opened in 1950, is based in the 1920s and explores two couples and their struggles with their significant others’ differences. Most of these differences revolve around the fact that the male love interests are both gamblers with an eye for trouble. “Guys and Dolls” earned a Tony Award and was eventually a turned into a film in 1955 that included Frank Sinatra in its cast.
The play begins with Nathan Detroit, played by juniors Ilan Pluznik and Kevin Nolan, and his fiancée of 14 years Miss Adelaide, played by juniors Emma Davis and Alyssa Tschirgi. Nathan and his lackeys Nicely Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet, played by junior Sam Bishop and senior Jacob Kempic, respectively, need to find a place to host their craps game, and the only willing person demands $1,000, which Nathan does not have.
Nathan soon bumps into Sky Masterson, played by senior Tharen Rice and bets him a thousand dollars he cannot get Sarah Brown, the pious and beautiful missionary, played by senior Kendall Grove, to travel to Havana with him for a romantic excursion. The rest of the musical is a hilarious and heartwarming story of unexpected love and friendship.
The characters in this story were humorous, witty, and clever. From Sky and Sarah’s flirtatious banter to Adelaide’s extravagant attitude, this musical was bursting with charisma. Their vocals neared perfection, and the first big showstopper was “Oldest Established,” which really set the tone of the whole show.
After this, Rice and Grove sang their first song as Sky and Sarah, “I’ll Know,” in which one could feel their chemistry all the way from the back of the auditorium, even if she does later give him a pretty hard slap across the face.
“Adelaide’s Lament” introduced Adelaide and her struggles with her fiancé in the best way possible, with amazing vocals and facial expressions from Davis and Tschirgi. “Guys and Dolls,” performed spectacularly by Bishop and Kempic, highlighted one of the large concepts and fears of the many of the male characters, that once you fall for a girl, or should I say, doll, it is like a prison that you can never escape again.
The dancing and fight scenes in Havana were a highlight of the show, especially the use of special effects when the Sarah cracks a bottle over a dancer’s head. The tech crew also brought in a humorous and creative plane graphic that flew across the curtains to signal a transition in location. This is followed by two romantic songs from Grove and Rice, “My Time of Day” and “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” and once again the audience fawned over Sky and Sarah’s romance. This closed the first act.
The second act opened with “Take Back Your Mink,” another big showstopper with Adelaide and her Hot Box Dolls, which Davis, Tschirgi and the ensemble performed with sass and confidence. This was followed by “More I Cannot Wish You,” a heartwarming song sung by Arvide Abernathy, played by senior Zach Banham, who showed how much his character cared for Sarah through fantastic acting and vocals.
The next scene in the sewers gave the tech crew another time to shine. The green and white lighting over the heads of the cast created a realistic effect that helped immerse the audience into the story. “The Crapshooter’s Dance” was an interesting dance scene with little vocals and lots of different movements, including different jumps and flips, and “Luck Be A Lady” was a great adaption of the Sinatra classic sung by Rice and the rest of the guys.
Nathan and Adelaide’s duet “Sue Me” was a hilarious number full of heart and fantastic harmonies done by Pluznik and Davis. Then came the famous show number “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat,” which was brimming with fun choreography and great vocals from Bishop and the ensemble. This was followed by another big song “Marry The Man Today,” a duet between Adelaide and Sarah, which allowed Grove, Tschirgi and Davis to pull out the strong confident sides of their characters. This leads us to the finale, which brought the whole show together and tied the character’s storylines up nicely, no pun intended.
There were many parts of this musical that were fantastic. The costumes were perfectly fitted to each cast member, whether named or ensemble, and the tireless efforts of many of the adults who helped make them could be seen. The set was also well constructed, thanks to the crew headed by Mr. Pete Johnson.
As previously mentioned, the tech crew, led by senior Caralyn Anderson, used lighting and sounds creatively to immerse the audience in the story, which I especially noticed when the characters were in the sewers. The stage crew also kept the audience focused on the show, using clever times and points in the story to move set pieces and props quickly and silently.
The pit band, conducted by Band Director Mr. Will Marrin, deserves a tremendous credit, playing different pieces of music in between scenes to allow time for everything to be set up. Whether performing an actual song or transition pieces, they excelled in every note they played and never overpowered the characters’ vocals.
The choreography was one of the best parts of the show. It was always interesting, well-performed and comical. “Take Back Your Mink” was full sass and fun, and “The Crapshooter’s Dance,” which had many different movements and dance moves, including acrobatics and running up and down the aisles of the auditorium, added a nice touch to the organized chaos that conquered the number.
By far, the most blatant thing the audience could see while watching the show was the chemistry between Sky and Sarah. Their character development made the musical feel human, and the forces in their lives that tore them apart were realistic and explored throughout the plot in a subtle way that left the audience thinking. When they first meet, the tension hit the crowd like a bus, and the audience was just waiting for something to happen. When that something did happen, it felt real and emotional, as did their entire love story.
Sky and Sarah’s duets were beautifully sung, and they bounced off each other’s lines with ease. This was all due to the amazing acting done by Rice and Grove, and it will be a sad day for the drama department to see them go at the end of the school year. Nathan and Adelaide also had an amazing dynamic, performed perfectly by Pluznik and Davis. While they loved each other, their disagreements were 14 years in the making, which seemed comparable to many long term relationships.
Overall, this musical was yet another Mt. Hebron hit filled with humor, heart and amazing singers. This, as always, could not have happened without Mr. Sankey, Choreographer Ms. Amanda Tschirgi, and Choir Director Mr. Chris Hettenbach.