“When everyone’s in the moment, it’s no longer high schoolers doing lines, it’s crap shooters in the sewer or missionaries falling in love with gangsters. That’s my favorite part, when it becomes real,” said senior Ben Nadelstein about “Guys and Dolls,” the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School musical, which kicks off at 7 pm on Thursday night. Performances will continue on Friday and Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.
In this beloved Broadway musical, Nathan Detroit, played by senior Liam Weiland, wants to set up the biggest craps game in New York City. To secure the money, he goes to Sky Masterson, played by Mr. Nadelstein. What ensues is a trip to Havana, an unlikely romance, and a wild cast of characters who make good on seemingly impossible bets.
“A big challenge for me was learning the layers to [Sky], because he’s really not 2D,” Mr. Nadelstein said. “There are so many more things I learn about him every time I look at the lines and get onstage. He’s super complex, and it’s been a rewarding challenge to try to figure the character out.”
This year’s play has been a welcome test for the cast and crew. “There’s always going to be one of those challenges popping its head up,” director Brooke Hardman-Ditchfield said. “But that’s the fun of it, because you get to tackle those challenges with an ensemble of people who have your back.”
For senior Tessa Whitaker, the choreography in the Havana scene was the most fun challenge. “It’s a very dynamic and expressive scene with a lot of dancing, some ‘drinking,’ a bar fight,” Ms. Whitaker said. “It was very hard to learn, timing- and choreography-wise, but it is so much fun.”
Ms. Whitaker plays Sarah Brown, a missionary who works at Broadway’s Save a Soul Mission and ends up falling in love with Sky. “Sarah has a few different personas in the show that I’ve had to tackle,” Ms. Whitaker said. “One is the all-business, devout Christian girl who has no time for anything but her work; another is the completely loose, and quite a bit drunk, flamboyant girl. Sarah has really drastic character changes I’ve had to learn, while still trying to be the same character overall for each change. I tried to pick some of Sarah’s traits that could be used and that would make sense in every persona she exhibited. Like, she’s got a healthy sense of pride, stubbornness, and a hidden confidence about her character that can always be brought through, no matter what state she is in.”
While Sarah is uncharitably referred to as a prude, Nathan Detroit’s girlfriend of 14 years, Adelaide, is a performer at the Hot Box nightclub. “Adelaide’s very strong-minded and sassy. She doesn’t give up after a loss,” said junior Sam Cassidy, who plays the role. Adelaide wants to marry Nathan; however, she is upset by his continued involvement with the craps game.
At the end of the show, all the characters seem to find their places in the world. The cast has experienced a similar resolution. “By the end of the show, everyone feels like family,” Ms. Cassidy said. “We may have had our ups and downs, but after spending so much time together and working so hard to put on a show, it just feels safe and like home backstage. My favorite part is getting to play onstage with all my best friends, and just having fun. Seeing the finished product and watching the different pieces come together makes all the hard work worth it.”
Ms. Whitaker concurred: “In my experience, I’ve never been in a cast with such a huge sense of community. There is no competition or animosity, and everyone shines no matter what role they’re playing. I just love that everyone is making the most of whatever they’ve got.”
“Guys and Dolls”: Thursday, Feb. 16, through Saturday, Feb. 18, starting at 7 pm, and Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2 pm, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the door; $10 for adults, $8 for students, seniors, and children.