Tag Archives: “Guys and Dolls”

Unsung Heroes #264

For over 60 years, Staples Players have entertained, touched and inspired audiences. Some shows are fun and funny; others, thought-provoking or  provocative.

Over the years, we’ve grown to expect spectacular quality: acting, singing, directing, choreography, sets, costumes, lighting, the pit.

We always rave about Players’ productions. But we sometimes take them for granted.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 7th time they’ve put on that musical — closed Saturday night. It built on the tradition of previous versions, and all the other successes.

But it sure wasn’t easy.

Henry Carson — the senior playing Nathan Detroit — was laid out by flu just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach. (His late grandfather — Jack Lemmon — would have been very proud.)

Will McCrea as Nathan Detroit, and Jackie Peterson as Adelaide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The next day, understudies Graham Griffin (also a 9th grader) and junior Finley Chevrier took the stage, in other roles. A spot operator was also out sick.

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew caught whatever was going around. By the final performance, all but one had recovered. The show went on — fabulously.

But without its regular pit orchestra conductor.

Staples music teacher Carrie Mascaro was ill. Her colleague Luke Rosenberg — the school’s choral director — stepped up big time. He learned the score, then led 14 musicians in a flawless performance.

Luke Rosenberg took over as pit director last weekend. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The show must go on. And it did.

How about one more standing ovation for:

  • The understudies who got the call, and quickly responded
  • Their replacements, who had to instantly adapt too
  • The costume crew, who did incredible work before the show, then kept working as actors took on new roles
  • The tech crew, which never gets enough praise — and their creative boss, Jeff Hauser, who made sure set designer Jordan Janota’s imaginative vision was brought to life

“Rockin’ the Boat” — on the great “Guys and Dolls” set. (Photo/Kerry Long)

  • Choreographer (and expectant mom) Rachel MacIsaac Myers, whose wonderful work continued with each new actor
  • Luke Rosenberg, a true professional who stepped into the big conducting breach with virtually no notice
  • Directors David Roth and Kerry Long, who solved problem after problem, and weathered storm after storm, by modeling the show biz tradition that everyone involved will remember the rest of their lives.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 1950 show — is all about luck.

“Guys and Dolls” — Staples Players-style — had plenty of bad luck. But every person involved, on stage and off, came through a winner.

Congratulations, guys (and dolls). You’re our “06880” Unsung Heroes of the Week.

PS: Missed the show? check out the highlight reel below. It’s an easy bet: This will be the best 8 minutes you spend today.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Let us know! Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(“06880” entertains — and, hopefully, inspires and provokes — you several times a day. To support your hyper-local blog, please click here.)

 

The Guys And Gals Behind ‘Guys And Dolls’

When the curtain rises Friday on the Staples Players production of “Guys and Dolls,” the audience will gasp at the intricate set.  The high school stage will transform into New York City, with all its grit and glamour.

Soon, however, attention will be riveted on the actors.  Theatergoers will thrill to the music, choreography and staging, marveling that a high school troupe can put its traditionally professional mark on such a classic show.

As they leave the auditorium, a few folks will comment on the set and the costumes.  One or 2 may mention the lighting.  No one will talk about the intricate ballet that went on in the workrooms for months — and backstage for 2 hours — to make the show a success.

That’s the way it always is with theater.  The tech crew toils in obscurity.  (At Staples, they’re traditionally invited onstage for a bow at the final performance.)

But, as always, without tech there would be no show.

“The tech people are incredibly hard-working,” says Caley Beretta, a senior who serves as Players president and assistant director for “Guys and Dolls.”  “The entire cast was here from 2:30 to 7 last week — but tech was here from 2:30 to 10.  And it wasn’t even Hell Week.”

Even the actors don’t realize the contributions of tech.  “The cast is gone, so they don’t see everything gets done,” Caley notes.

Josh Tucker, Staples Players

Josh Tucker, Staples Players VP for tech, works just as hard backstage as the crew members he supervises. (Photo by Kerry Long)

To stress the importance of tech to a show, anyone wishing to audition for the next Staples show must contribute at least 25 hours behind the scenes.  “We want to create well-rounded theater people,” Caley explains.

Those tech hours are critical to a show like “Guys and Dolls.”  Three different drops come down, so “New York” completely surrounds every scene.

Though adult professionals serve as supervisors — David Seltzer is tech director, Reid Thompson is scenic designer, and Lynn Muniz (“Hair”) is set painter — students perform the bulk of the work.  For this show, for example, they created 4 different flats — some 20 feet tall — on the sides of the stage.  The flats feature complex perspectives, and Players began working on them in early September.

Josh Tucker — Players vice president of tech — handles intricate details.  He’s got a run crew that moves sets constantly; 4 spot operators; a fly operator coordinating all drops, and side managers who communicate, via headsets, with Elana Machlis, the stage manager.

Then there’s props, costumes and sound.  Besides sound effects, Players has 23 mikes, some of which switch between ensemble and cast members.

“Backstage is mayhem,” Caley says.

Despite the chaos — not only during the run, but in the long weeks leading up to it — working on tech is fulfilling.  “It’s so creative,” Caley says.  “Seeing the show come to life, from the first models to the actual performance, is incredible.  You can point to something and say, ‘I built that,’ ‘I lit that,’ or ‘I made that happen.'”

(“Guys and Dolls” opens this Friday, Nov. 13, and runs Nov. 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Staples auditorium.  There are additional performances Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m., and Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.  Tickets are $15 adults, $10 students and senior citizens, with a special “stimulus price” of $10 adults, $5 students and senior citizens on Nov. 19.  Tickets can be purchased online, at www.staplesplayers.com, or in the Staples main lobby this week from 12:30 to 2 p.m., cash or check only.  Any remaining tickets will be available at the door, 30 minutes before each performance.  For further information, call 203-341-1310.)

Andie Levinson, Staples Players

Andie Levinson, co-senior manager of arts and graphics, paints a set piece. (Photo by Kerry Long)