When the young performers in the Reynolds Secondary School Musical Theatre production of Guys and Dolls take the stage for the last time on March 11, there will be lots of hugs, smiles and tears.
That’s because, for many of the graduating cast members, this will be the culmination of years of dedicated participation in the theatre arts program. Skills have been developed, friendships have been forged and the foundations of memories have been set in what has truly been a labour of love.
“We have some kids who have been with the program since they were in Grade 9, and in at least one case a young man named Gavin is following an older sibling who was also in the program for four years. The program has truly become a part of their lives for nearly a decade, and in March it will be the culmination of that time with the program” said John Gray, the production’s director.
Gray explained how this is the 21st production of the Reynolds secondary school theatre arts program, a legacy resulting in a significant number of program alumni in the audience for every performance.
“The funny thing is, we did a variety show in December where we featured one of the Guys and Dolls numbers. There were some audience members who had been in our cast when we last did the show 10 years ago, and they were singing along with the number,” said Gray with a chuckle.
The 42 members of the cast, as well as the 25 crew members and the 18 students who make up the pit-band have all been dedicating yeoman’s hours to perfecting the production – rehearsing on weekends, after school and even on holidays to ensure a flawless production when the show takes the stage at the Reynolds School Theatre on March 6.
“These young adults are such a special group of people,” said Gray. “It’s been a privilege to work with such a talented and dedicated group.”
He noted the fact that at least some of the alumni of the program have gone on to careers on the stage.
“For example, the female lead of the production of Guys and Dolls when we did it 10 years ago was a young woman named Ariel Seidman-Wright. She went on to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and danced the same show in New York years later. Others have gone on to a variety of performing arts schools and careers.”
Guys and Dolls is the 1950 Tony award-winning depiction of the gamblers, hustlers, nightclub singers and missionaries who interact on the streets of depression-era New York. A now-classic score by Frank Loesser will be performed by the all-student pit-band at Reynolds, a challenging task, given the complexity of the music and the fact that some of the band members are called upon to play more than a single instrument during the same number.
The leads for this year’s production are Carter Lapham as Sky Masterson, Lucy Sherlock as Sister Sarah, Elena Pantazopoulas as Adelaide and Gavin Kieruf as Nathan Detroit. In addition to director John Gray, the production is staged by the pit band conductor, Dave Flello, choreographer Kanika Jackson and choral director Jacqui Sullivan.
The show runs from March 6 to March 11. Curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. at the Reynolds School Theatre. Tickets are available at the school office at 3963 Borden St.