Plaid is the new black in ‘Guys and Dolls’

The CambrianMarch 27, 2014 

From left, Katrina Cleave, Cameron MacTavish, Carson Pierce, Jacob Wright, Ethan Walters, Treiy Petit, Brandon Loredo, Emily Dubnow, Nate Ehlers, Annika Marthaler, Michelle Campos and Cesar Hernandez play in ‘Guys and Dolls.’

MERLE BASSETT — Special to The Cambrian

“When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky, you can bet that he’s doing it for some doll.”
— Frank Loesser, “Guys and Dolls”

Combine “whistle it out the door” music, a cast of nearly three dozen students and a host of community members behind the scenes, and the result is the 2014 Coast Union High School production of the 1951 Tony award-winning musical, “Guys and Dolls.”

Randall Schwalbe, the play’s director and orchestra conductor, calls the play “a time-tested classic, well balanced with music, dramatic effects, comedy and lines.” He said in a recent interview that the play is perhaps best known for its “great songs. There’s not a clinker in the bunch.”

Kit Hansen is assistant director, school music instructor Larry Frost is the producer and the production’s band director, and 16-year-old high school junior Tiffany Stephens is the choreographer. “She’s doing a great job,” Schwalbe said. “The choreography is just darling.”

“Sit down, sit down, sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat!”

As usual, townspeople also have dedicated themselves to the show. Todd Steeb is production manager, Nancy Taylor is house manager and Kaitlin Bitto is stage manager. Lana Cruelle is costume coordinator, Tracy McConnell is set designer, Jennifer Ehlers is properties manager, Dave Ehlers is in charge of light design, Syd Carr is sound designer and Steve Finch is sound engineer.

Schwalbe said he and his troupe have some surprises in store for their audiences, “even for people who are familiar with the show … we’re pulling out all the stops. The cast is very busy throughout … the entire cast.”

The show, set in 1960s New York, is based on people in two Damon Runyon stories (“The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure”). It includes “very colorful characters,” Schwalbe said, including “gamblers with really great Runyonesque names, the mission folks fighting the forces of evil and converting the sinners, the entertainers and dancers of the Hot Box Theater and the police, always trying to chase down the crap game, coming very close but never quite getting there. There’s lots of romance, lots of action. The Havana scene is just outstanding.”

“It’s the oldest established, permanent floating crap game in New York.”

Schwalbe said, “The kids have been very high on the show from the beginning,” something he’s encouraged by “encouraging their participation in various aspects, such as blocking, or the way they present a song … I ask them ‘what would be better here?’”

That led to what Schwalbe describes as “a movie type of experience,” in which cast members mill around the stage, singing to each other and interacting with each other, rather than entertaining an audience. He explained that, through “‘the fourth wall,’ the audience will be there, spying on us.”

Schwalbe said primary cast members include Mackenna Perryman, Cesar Viveros, Ariel Bruce, Jacob Wright, Nate Ehlers, Katrina Cleave, Carson Pierce, Treiy Petit and Cameron McGurrin.

Members of the extended cast are Jackson Bruce, Michelle Campos, Emily Dubnow, Tori Ehlers, Anna Harrington, Cesar Hernandez, Karis Lawson, Brandon Loredo, Lucy McConnell, Cameron MacTavish, Zoe Markham, Annika Marthaler, Crystal Martinez, Marissa Martinez, Natalie Megley, Andrew Paiz, Maryn Steeb, Jasmine Torres, Ethan Walters and Hayley Zinn.

“Luck, if you’ve ever been a lady to begin with, luck be a lady tonight.”

“Guys & Dolls”

March 28 through April 6.

7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays.

Presented by and at Coast Union  High School, 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Road, Cambria.

$8 students, $10 general admission, $20 reserved.



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