By Brandon Dumsky
The Prohibition era is being relived at William Chrisman High School in Independence.
The classic “Guys and Dolls” musical is Chrisman's winter production. Featuring elaborate song and dance numbers, authentic costumes capturing the 1920s, plus an entire orchestra, the ambitious musical was something William Chrisman theater instructor and show director Kim Hayes wanted to pursue for quite some time.
“I always wanted to do this musical,” says Hayes. “We have the right group of talented students this year that can pull it off.”
The musical takes place in New York City at a time when fedoras, flappers, and pinstripe suits reigned. The tale consists of an “opposities attract” dynamic between Sky, a petty gambler with a penchant for the bottle, and a virutuous woman named Sarah, determined to end the bootlegging and other illegal activity in the city. The unlikely pairing inspires other ne’er-do-wells to bet money that Sarah will not leave with already-engaged Sky on a boat headed for Cuba.
Malia Shelton, a senior, who plays Adelaide, says, “It’s different than anything we’ve done before. We are performing a classic play and bringing something unique (to it).”
“Guys and Dolls” particularly showcases many of Chrisman’s theater veterans. Both seniors Michael Tonga, who plays Nathan, and David Sampson, portraying Sky, say their work with this year’s musical inspired them to possibly pursue professional theater or performing arts after graduation. “I always enjoyed singing,” says Tonga. “Working in this production makes me want to pursue this in the future.”
Sampson explains that both acting and singing present more of a challenge on stage. “It really adds a whole new dimension to your character,” he adds. “It affects how you perform and portray your role.”
Chrisman students have been rigorously working on “Guys and Dolls” since early September, according to Hayes. Some rehearsals even lasted eight hours after class, and stage techs have been busy perfecting their cues and scene transitions.
Despite all the hard work, however, the experience performing has been “fun and exciting,” said sophomore Claire Cook who plays Sarah. “’Guys and Dolls’ is a great audio and visual experience, and we all have put a great effort into it.”
Asked why should people attend the show, Shelton replied, “Because we are fabulous.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Guys and Dolls” at the William Chrisman High School auditorium, U.S. 24 and Noland Road, Independence WHEN: 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday. TICKETS: $5 in advance, $6 at the door. Advance purchases can be made by contacting Chrisman at 816-521-5355. DIRECTOR: Kim Hayes CAST: Sky - David Sampson Sarah - Claire Cook Nathan - Michael Tonga Adelaide - Malia Shelton Rusty - Ian Cobern Harry the Horse - Jordan Ray Angie the Ox - Gary Forman Big Julie - Spencer Long Society Max - Devin McGillihan Arvide - Nick Ferrell Calvin - Nathan Carvitto Agatha - Samantha Chance Gen. Cartwright - Britany Hanks Lt. Brannigan - Jesse Ewart Mimi - Allie Weston Allison - Shelby Bell Ferguson - Alex Stutzman Vernon - Adriana Tonga Hot Box Performers – Melody Burns, Rachel Gonzalez, Lexie Ingram, Rachel Ketchum, Alexis Lorenz, Jessica Lorenz, Sarah Myers Dolls – Angel Edwards, Kelsey Newland, Bailey Pierce, Lauren Shirley Guys – Jaun Banda, William Gerow, AJ Gibson, Kevin Kendall, Ben Kettlewell, Tim Paxton, Branden Smith, Austin Twenter, Ryan Thompson, Aaron Upton