As residents in The Big Apple prepared for the arrival of the perfect storm early this week, a group of Decatur High School students prepared to bring a perfect performance of the New York City-based musical “Guys and Dolls Jr.” to the local stage.Gamblers, gangsters, dancers, missionaries and other figures from New York City’s 1920s underworld will come to life when the DHS theater department presents an adaptation of the 1950 Broadway musical hit “Guys and Dolls.”
The musical won multiple Tony Awards and has been a frequent revival hit on Broadway as well as in other major theaters around the world. It won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The curtain goes up on “Guys and Dolls Jr.” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at the theater. Showings are scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well, with a 2 p.m. presentation on Sunday. Cost is $5 for students and $7 for adults.
The plot revolves around two gamblers, Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson. Detroit makes a bet that Masterson, played by Marcus Pinion, can’t get the upright and religious mission worker Sarah Brown, played by Ashtyn Talley, to go on a date with him to Havana, Cuba.
Meanwhile Detroit, played by the ever-entertaining Graham McCain, has troubles of his own. He’s a broke gambler and is in trouble with Miss Adelaide, his fianc for the past 14 years. Adelaide is a dancer at a night club called the Hot Box and is portrayed by the vivacious Alex Raasch.
They bring it all together with thick New York accents, lots of singing and dancing, a horde of colorful costumes and a background that brings hallmarks of 1920s New York City to life.
“It’s a musical comedy about the battle of the sexes,” said theater director Lance Morse. “It’s a classic tale of good versus evil.”
The musical features a couple of faces new to leading roles.
“For me it’s been stressful because I’ve never been a lead in a show,” Talley said.
“I’m new,” Pinion admits. “I just transferred here from Bridgeport. We do some theater over there but not to the level it’s being done here. The singing for me has been difficult. It’s been something I’ve had to work on.”
The musical has well-known numbers such as “Luck Be a Lady” and “A Bushel and a Peck.”
“Being a six-foot-two-and-a-half-inch guy, it’s been difficult to get down some of the choreographed dancing,” McCain said.
Meanwhile, Raasch, is enamored with the dancing numbers and the colorful outfits.
“I love all the songs – they are fun and upbeat,” she said from backstage with a purple feathered hat propped on her head. “I think everyone will really enjoy them.”
“Guys and Dolls” was also made into a musical film in 1955 in which Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson were portrayed by Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, respectively.
“Such great actors played these roles in the film,” McCain said. “It’s great to play those same roles.”
“Guys and Dolls Jr.” features 25 cast members and required a total of 60 high school students who helped in different levels of production. It’s the first production of the year from the vaunted theater program.
Morse is in his 11th year at the high school. During his time there they have put on 35 shows. Their UIL One-Act Play has gotten out of district the last eight years, has made it all the way to state competition four of the last six years, and won state in 2006.
In 2007, he took a group of young Decatur thespians to Edinburgh, Scotland, to represent American high school theater education in one of the largest arts festivals in the world. It was one of 44 American high schools chosen to participate in the international festival.