By Linda Cheung
On March 11, 12 and 13, NHPMHS Theatre put on a show-stopping performance of "Guys and Dolls" after only 2 1/2 months of rehearsals, combining the musical cast with stage crew and pit orchestra, culminating into a three hour show of song and dance. "Guys and Dolls" features four main characters: Sarah Brown, played by Ishita Bansal; Nathan Detriot, played by Bobby Kuskowski; Sky Masterson, played by Andrew Canese; and Miss Adelaide, played by Julia Esposito.
Toward the beginning of rehearsals for "Guys and Dolls," each aspect of the production practiced separately, meaning that the cast, stage crew and pit orchestra did not rehearse together until the week before the performances, presenting some interesting moments among all three aspects of the production. Witnessing separate pieces of the musical slowly culminate into a larger performance provided unique experiences for everyone involved.
Additionally, some improvisation was used in scenes, such as the song, “Luck Be A Lady.”
Source by Julia Esposito
Andrew Canese, portraying the character of Sky, belts the famous song "Luck Be A Lady."
“One thing that made me, Deb and Andrew all laugh our butts off was during 'Luck Be A Lady,'” junior Ishita Bansal said. "Andrew was planning on doing a heel click mid-show, and we were like, ‘No, Sky’s this character. He’s going to be so distraught. He’s lost the love of his life or whatever,’ but he’s like, ‘No, I’m putting a heel click in there,’ and I’m pretty sure he did it for at least two of the shows… I can’t think about it without laughing.”
There were many other highlights, specifically from the “Havana” scene, where Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown travel to Havana, Cuba. During the scene, there were many dancers and colorful lights projected onto the stage, which created a lively atmosphere. Although there were rehearsals for months leading up to opening weekend, the “Havana” scene was not rehearsed until two weeks before the show. However, due to the memorization already completed by the actors and actresses, the choreography and script became familiar relatively quickly.
Likewise, NHP Theater adviser Mr. Ferrar commented on the nostalgia that this production sparked as a result of directing the same musical ten years ago. Even after many years of various musicals, Mr. Ferrar recognized the familiarity of the performance, as well as the similarities and differences between the new production and the old production.
“I was amazed at how quickly it all came back to me, sometimes not even until we were in performance, during the show, I would suddenly feel like ‘Oh, I remember when ten years ago, people who are now graduated and had babies and are married were doing this,’ and it made me feel extra old,” Mr. Ferrar said.
Furthermore, being a member of the stage crew also presents highlights from a different point of view. Stage crew members often operate under the motto, “If you see us, something’s gone terribly wrong.”
“I iron out a lot of the issues that could come up during the musical, so in terms of stage crew students, I enjoy the rehearsals more because I can watch them take on leadership roles and seeing them in that aspect is really nice," stage crew adviser Mr. D’Ammassa said. "Whereas in the musical, seeing the actors and actresses, that was really interesting because they were in a high stress situation, so seeing how they coped with it and helping them through it was really rewarding.”
While there were numerous positive experiences as a member of the production for many individuals, there were also several challenges and difficulties that members of the cast, stage crew and pit orchestra encountered during rehearsals and performances.
“For me, personally, it was a lot of anxiety, especially because the last time we were on stage was at least two years ago,” junior Julia Esposito said.
Source from Gary Ferrar
The "Hot Box Girls" dazzle the stage in the act two opener, "Take Back Your Mink."
Some cast members also mentioned the stage fright that may accompany an actor or actress on stage.
“My dramatics teacher Mr. Ferrara came up to me and was like, ‘Dude, we see you shaking on stage!’ and I was like, ‘I know, I know!’” Canese said.
On the other hand, others referenced the difficulties of turning a character with traditional themes into an original character, while still maintaining the characteristics of the original screenplay.
“It’s so easy to label 'Guys and Dolls' as this misogynistic musical where there’s a bunch of these themes, and some of those themes can be a little bit more old fashioned, but what I really wanted to do with Sarah Brown was make it so that role wasn’t just taken as this token prissy little girl,” Bansal said.
The stage crew advisers also remarked on the countless technical difficulties that they encountered during rehearsals. Stage crew is responsible for managing everything happening backstage. Therefore, the stage crew is able to control many facets of the musical without being noticed. However, many problems may emerge which impede them from doing so.
“Mics not working, mic batteries dying in the middle of rehearsals, people tripping, things getting unplugged, stuff not working. A computer that handles literally everything ran an update, and we couldn’t use it, everything,” Mr. D’Ammassa said.
The pit orchestra conductor, Mr. Monat, also commented on how being involved with the pit orchestra can be a memorable experience while also being a challenge.
“Having to do the skills of working with people on stage and down in the pit challenges me too," Mr. Monat explained. "The challenge of conducting is not easy, keeping everybody together and sound good and working with the people on stage helps me learn from it.”
“I think the biggest challenge with any high school production is attendance because people are overcommitted, especially the first year back out of the whole virtual mess of COVID, everyone wanted to do everything,” Mr. Ferrar said.
Moreover, having a live performance at NHP presented many differences compared to the virtual musical last year. After a year of participating in virtual extracurricular activities, many students and teachers were eager to join in-person clubs such as the musical this year.
Source from Gary Ferrar
The characters strike their final pose during the full cast number, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."
Similarly, the virtual musical simply does not replicate the same experience as performing in front of a live audience. Many actors and actresses argue that reciting lines in front of a camera does not reproduce the same anxiety-inducing nerves before a major performance that an actor or actress may encounter during a live show. If an actor or actress does not get the lines right, they can record again, which does not create the same emotions compared to live theater.
“Clearly the virtual musical had some limitations to work under, but it was a very admirable performance given those limitations, and I saw a lot of the actors and actresses persist into this year’s play, so I thought that was nice as well. It was cool seeing a lot of the students I know now in that version,” English teacher Mr. Ryan said.
Ultimately, "Guys and Dolls" was a successful performance, especially considering all the difficulties encountered along the way.