This year, the OHS Drama Club decided on the 1950s Broadway hit, Guys and Dolls, as its 2018 spring musical production. The musical, written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows with music from Frank Loesser, won the 1950 Tony Award and later received a film adaptation starring Frank Sinatra.
The story follows characters from the underbelly of 1930s New York City, a time in which people threw prohibition, morality, and caution to the wind. Our main characters consist of Nathan Detroit, the big kahuna behind an illegal string of crap games, Miss Adelaide, Nathan’s distressed fiance of 14 years, Sky Masterson, a notorious gambler with no convictions, and Sarah Brown, a missionary set on saving the entire sinful city.
The plot thickens as Nathan, broke as he is, finds himself needing $1,000 for a deposit on a place to host a crap game. He then makes a bet with Sky Masterson, proposing that the gambler wouldn’t be able to take Sarah Brown, the Jesus-loving missionary, to Havana, Cuba. After promising Sarah one dozen sinners, Sky Masterson, of course, does manage to whisk her away and subsequently, falls in love. There’s some bumps in between, but ultimately, the story ends with Nathan and Adelaide’s wedding, where she can finally relieve herself of her 14-year-long cold.
Overall, the production went great. I had the opportunity to watch both casts perform on Saturday and was glad to see that both sets of students carried their parts adequately. The show demanded a great deal of accents, which most of the cast members were able to do a-okay. Costumes were easily one of the best aspects of the production–they were colorful and true to 1930s fashion. In regards to performances, I thought both Adelaides, played by Brielle Sanders and Melissa Czapczyk, were definite highlights–each performance was entertaining and matched with great voices.
Technical difficulties were also close to none. In previous productions, mic issues sometimes would arise, but this year, lighting and sound seemed to go smoothly. Which was important, you know, because of all the spotlights and shifts of color during songs like, “Sue Me”, “I’ll Know” and “Guys and Dolls”. All in all, it was a pleasant experience.
As to why the Drama Club picked this production, I don’t know. The musical has a male-dominated cast and doesn’t present the most forward-thinking themes in regards to women and marriage.
You see this a lot in Adelaide’s character–a hot box singer who’s desperate to become someone’s wife. In “Adelaide’s Lament”, she reads a passage from a psychology textbook that reads, “the average unmarried female, basically insecure”, establishing a slightly sexist undertone we see through the rest of the musical.
For Adelaide’s bachelorette party, her friends gift her kitchen utensils and of course she’s excited, because she figures the kitchen will soon become her favorite room once she’s married.
Speaking of marriage, the musical also conveys some brow-raising themes. In the second to last song, “Marry the Man Today”, Sarah and Adelaide convince each other to “gamble” on their significant others. They sing lines like, “Marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow” and “Give him your hand today and save the fist for after”–convoluted lyrics that, if sung by a man, would have probably caused a bigger stir.
These women are marrying these men not with acceptance but with the assurance that they can change their ways–and they do! Sort of.
Sky Masterson, who never really displayed any interest in the Good Book other than what he read from sleezy motels, suddenly becomes a missionary to please Sarah. And Nathan, well, he doesn’t change much.
All in all, the production value of the show was great. The actors fit their parts and performed with flying colors. Tech crew and those in charge of design elements tuned into 1930s New York and made sure the musical ran smoothly. However, the actual musical itself can be dubbed questionable, at best. Overall, not bad for what the dwindling school budget could offer.