CONWAY — Lady Luck may be featured in one of “Guys and Doll's” most famous songs, but it was Mother Nature who decided to take an active role in keeping the cast and crew of Arts in Motion and Kennett High School's production of the iconic musical on their toes.
“We've had some struggles with the amount of snow that we've had because that's canceled a lot of our rehearsals, so we had to do overtime in this last week, but it is going well,” Taylor Hill said.
The canceled rehearsals have lead to a busy final week with rehearsals running seven or nine hours to be ready for the opening Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at the Kennett High School Loynd Auditorium in North Conway. The production, directed by Glenn Noble, music directed by Mary Bastoni-Rebmann and choreographed by Holly Fougere, will have additional performances April 9, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. and April 10 and 17 at 1 p.m.
“It has been tiring, but they have pulled together as a team,” Noble said. “A high school production is always challenging because they are always involved in so much.”
“Guys and Dolls,” by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, first opened on Broadway in 1951 and went onto inspire the 1955 film starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando as well as numerous revivals on Broadway and the West End. For the cast though it was like a brand new show.
“This was a show I had heard about,” Hill said. “I heard some of the music. I had heard some things about it, but I hadn't gone into it with a preconceived notion about what it was or what came with it. I was kind of like, 'OK, a new show, let's tackle this' and I think that's what we've all kind of done.”
Set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City, the show introduces us to Sarah Brown (Hill), the upright but uptight "mission doll," out to reform the evildoers of Time Square; Sky Masterson, (Philip Mathieu) the slick, high-rolling gambler who woos her on a bet and ends up falling in love; Adelaide, (Hanna Paven) the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she's been engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, (Kevin Ahearn) her devoted fiancé, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game.
The young cast made a conscious effort to avoid much of the pre-existing material out there and to create their own characterizations.
“I have my perception of what the character should be like, so I try to stick to that even if I see someone else do it differently. I kind of stick to my own,” Paven said.
Mathieu agrees and has avoided seeing the film so as not to have it alter his performance.
“Usually if I watch the film I will find myself imitating who plays it and then that's not me so it doesn't come out well on stage,” Mathieu said.
The show was also a chance for the actors to try new roles and, in Hill's case, an opportunity to play against her usual type.
“It was a completely different role from things I've done in the past,” Hill said. “Sarah is really conservative. I'm not really used to playing a conservative role, so I guess that was challenge in itself.”
For Ahearn the challenge came in tackling the dialogue that comes with the Nathan Detroit character
“I've always played kind of like a goofy character in some way,” Ahearn said. “This one isn't as goofy, but it still is, but the language that Nathan uses compared to other characters I've used has been really hard to comprehend and memorize the lines for just because he speaks a lot different than past characters I've played.”
The show also stars Zack Whitley, Kodi Barrows, Gabe Lee, Shai-ann Fellows and 30 other Kennett High School students. This year's show also includes guest appearances from non-Kennett students including Chris Madura, Keith Force and Matt Stoker.
All tickets are $10 and can be purchased at artsinmotiontheater.com or at the door.