by Dennis Dalman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gamblers, gangsters, cops and a crowd of wise-cracking low-life characters will cavort comically and strut cockily upon the stage when Sartell Middle School performs “Guys and Dolls” Feb. 21-23 in the Sartell High School theater.
Directed by Rick Cicharz, “Guys and Dolls” stars Camilo Hernandez and Turner Kuhn as Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit, the two male leads. The top female roles, Adelaide and Sarah Brown, are played by Quinne Ingemansen and Katie Kulus. Cicharz has directed many hit plays throughout the years – seven musicals and one play from 1994-2000 at Sartell High School and 13 musicals and 10 plays from 2000 to the present at Sartell Middle School.
“I picked the show (‘Guys and Dolls’),” Cicharz said, “because of the fun music and colorful characters.”
The musical comedy will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22; and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. Tickets, available at the door, are $5 for adults, $3 for students, and senior citizens are admitted free. Seating will begin one-half hour before each show.
There are several dozens of seventh- and eighth-grade actors in “Guys and Dolls,” and some of them perform multiple roles.
“Guys and Dolls,” which premiered on Broadway in 1950 starring Robert Alda and Vivian Blaine, enthralled audiences and critics, who scrambled to find superlatives to describe the musical. Many agreed it was the “best and most perfect” musical in American musical history. Critics lavished praise especially on how well its creators “integrated” the songs organically with the story line of the play.
An interesting historical footnote is the Cold War 1950s had an impact on “Guys and Dolls.” The original production was honored with a Pulitzer Prize in 1951. However, a controversy quickly arose because of Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, which persecuted those in the entertainment industry who were allegedly communists or communist sympathizers. Caving into political pressure, the trustees of Columbia University, which give out Pulitzer Prizes, revoked its award to the play, which was co-written by one of the alleged communist sympathizers, Abe Burrows, who based the play on stories by the great American humorist Damon Runyon.
In the six decades since, the play, which is often revived throughout the world, has continued to win rave reviews and wild applause from audiences. A 1955 movie version was made starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine.
The well-known showstoppers from “Guys and Dolls” include the songs “Luck Be A Lady,” “Adelaide’s Lament,” “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
The following is how the play’s publicity director, Todd Orth of Sartell, describes the play’s basic premise:
“Set in New York City, this Broadway classic introduces us to many colorful characters: Sarah Brown, the upright ‘mission doll’ out to reform the evildoers of Times Square; Sky Masterson, the slick high-roller who woos her on a bet and ends up getting more than he gambled for; Adelaide, the nightclub performer whose chronic cold is brought on by the fact she’s been engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiance, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating craps game. Everything comes together in the end, thanks to the twists and turns of this hilarious, fast-paced musical presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.”
The many revivals of the play, mainly in New York and London, have won so many awards, including many Tonys, they would practically fill a warehouse.
Although Orth does not have a role in the play, he is happy to serve as publicist, encouraging others to see “Guys and Dolls.”
“I like the play,” he said. “I’ve seen the movie, which was kind of slow. In the movie, the songs did not come off as vibrant as they do on the stage. And Marlon Brando (in the movie) wasn’t much of a singer.”
Orth, his wife Connie and daughter, Gillian, are all theater fans and have performed in plays. Connie was recently in the play, “Dances with Many Voices,” and Gillian, a sixth-grader, was in the school’s production of “The Princess King” in which she played the thief’s mother – a juicy, wicked plum of a role.
The following is a complete cast list of the actors in “Guys and Dolls,” including those who play multiple roles:
Main characters: Nicely-Nicely – Aidan Spechard; Benny Southstreet – Kobey Cofer; Rusty Charlie – Sam Neuman; Sarah Brown – Katie Kulus; Arva Abernathy – Jordan Dockery; Harry the Horse – Reece Decker; Lt. Brannigan – Griffin Trondson; Nathan Detroit – Turner Kuhn; Angie the Ox – Tyler Elness; Miss Adelaide – Quinne Ingemansen; Sky Masterson – Camilo Hernandez; Big Jule – Jon Orjansen; Cop – Matthew Evans; Cop – Brock Sorensen; Gen. Cartwright – Hannah Kosloski.
The Hot Box Girls: Mimi – Maia Kurvers, Avery Mumm, Kayla Larsen, Ana Ellis, Katelyn Weide, Brooklyn Madden, Jenna Engelkes, Anisha Reid and Kate Karpel.
Mission Band Members: Kaylee Lodermeier, Thomas Magarian, Bethany Buerscheid, Austin Haus, McKenna Walker, Caleb Otteson, Emily Myskewitz and Daniel Erickson.
Gamblers/Guys: Jaren Martin, TJ Raden, Colin Nord, Ben Grant, Daniel Ufearo, Riley Dalby, Alex Metteer and Lee Wood.
Dolls: Maia Trombley, Emma Gunderson, Abby Veitch, MacKenzie Krueger, Laura Carlson, Megan Thooft, Renee Schroeder and Autumn Fosteson.
Havana Guys and Gals: Daniel Ufearo, Maia Trombley, Colin Nord, Emma Gunderson, Alex Metteer, Abby Veitch, TJ Raden and MacKenzie Krueger
Stage managers: Raija Layne and Nikki Waters.
Production: Rich Cicharz, director; Travis Hess, assistant director; Kay Nelson and Bobbi Foote, musical directors; Tracey Watkin, set design/construction; Avalon Olson, prop master and painting; Debra Leigh, choreographer; Pat Cicharz, costume coordinator; John Christenson, lighting design; and Todd Orth, publicity.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.