The stage at JEB Stuart High School was suddenly alight with the bustle of a New York City street as the Stuart orchestra struck up a jazzy tune. The actors strutted, sneaked, and strolled down Broadway as the high school’s extremely enjoyable production of Guys and Dolls began.
Guys and Dolls, one of Broadway’s most classic, well-known musicals, was first performed on Broadway in 1950, bringing to the stage the themes of gangsters, crap players, and the occasional conservative missionary. In the story, Sky Masterson, a well-known gambler, makes a bet with his old friend Nathan Detroit that he can take a “doll,” or a girl, to Havana, Cuba with him for a night; Sky and Sarah Brown, the missionary who fulfills this bet, eventually fall hopelessly in love. The cast at JEB Stuart depicted this relationship and the rest of the musical masterfully.
From this cast, one actor that truly stood out was Elijah Williams as Nicely-Nicely, who provided yet another element of comedy to the production. His comedic timing was precise and always earned a hearty laugh especially when he entered the stage with a banana. His voice was also always audible and clear above other parts, and not a note was off-tune. Another notable performer was Mary Harrell as Miss Adelaide: in each of her scenes, she commanded the stage and infatuated the audience with her every move, whether it be an unexpected removal of her outer costume on the stage at the Hotbox or a song where her voice rose clearly and gracefully above the others.
Other memorable characters included John Lesko as Sky Masterson, the sly gambler who wins the heart of Sarah Brown (Sara Zewdu), who also combined her clear soprano voice with smooth acting and good chemistry with her partner; Ameer Yaqoob as Benny Southstreet. Yaqoob’s performance in his group of three friends stood out even as he served as a character that the others picked on and put down. Also standing out, Randie Goode as Nathan Detroit, who constantly remained true to his accurate accent and characterization along with contributing yet another strong voice to the music.
The tech departments performed adequately, even as many of the leads’ microphone cords were very visible to the audience but only slightly distracting from the beauty of their otherwise-strong versions of the classic Broadway songs like the audience favorite “Sue Me.” Overall, the musical aspect of JEB Stuart’s Guys and Dolls was one of the most prevalent: harmonies in every song were discernable and pleasant, and the larger roles were all filled with talented vocalists who combined good technique with excellent pitch and control.
Both the cast and crew of JEB Stuart High School, created an enjoyable escape to the theater with their production of Guys and Dolls, filled with laughter, love, and beautiful music. The audience was drawn into the emotions of gangsters, gamblers, and their lovers, making the production an unforgettable experience.
Langley High School
A tale of unlikely couples on the storied streets of 1950’s New York City, JEB Stuart’s production of Guys and Dolls enthralled their audience in laughter and awe.
An acclaimed production since 1955, Guys and Dolls tells the story of good emerging out of evil. Mr. Sky Masterson, a wealthy and a dedicated crapshooter, makes a bet that he can take any dame out for a night on the town. When he is dared to charm a struggling missionary by the name of Sarah Brown, he succeeds but is forced to face the budding of an unexpected romantic connection. Meanwhile, his fellow crapshooter, Nathan Detroit, struggles to juggle running the crap game while pleasing his fiancée of fourteen-years, Adelaide, a hotbox dancer and dedicated companion.
The cast and crew of JEB Stuart’s production did an admirable job of bringing unique energy to this classic tale. With strong harmonies that delighted the audience and honest comedic timing that brought endless laughter, strong leads, and a few very strong vocalists carried the show.
With an enviable spark and strong character commitment, Mary Harrell as Miss Adelaide completely stole the show. Her comedic timing was brilliant, and her commitment to her accent and furthermore to her lover, was commendable and tremendously entertaining. Additionally, the chemistry between the two lovers, played by Mary Harrell and Randie Goode (Nathan Detroit), was convincing, most especially evident in their heart-warming song “Sue Me.” A charming John Lesko as the flirtatious Sky Masterson was an effective casting choice as he brought his own finesse to a hackneyed character.
Another show stopper, Elijah Williams as Nicely Nicely Johnson was the carrier of the harmonies in each song and furthermore elicited laughter from an adoring audience each time he stepped foot on stage. Each choice he made --the shaking on a glass, the inflections of his voice, and the constant consumption of food—was equally successful and enjoyable, particularly in “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” Furthermore, the relationship developed between him and his buddies, portrayed by Ameer Yaqoob (Benny Southstreet) and Jonah Garces-Foley (Rusty Charlie), was delightful in their bickering and horseplay. Despite some melodramatics and synchronicity issues, the ensemble was devoted to their individual characters and added energy to the show.
The costumes of the show were quite exceptional, from the suits of the sinners to the quaint dresses of the Havana crows and on the hotbox stage. The costume transitions, most conspicuously of Adelaide and her ensemble, were quick and a wonderful surprise. Despite some minor muffling, the sound was quite strong, and mixed the harmonies quite well.
For such a well-known show, the cast and crew of JEB Stuart’s production of Guys and Dolls did a most commendable job on putting their own twist on an infamous story.