Kids become ‘Guys and Dolls’ at Act Out Theatre in Dunmore Jan. 31-Feb. 2
From a press release:
Act Out Theatre Group will present the most adorable bunch of gangsters, gamblers, and showgirls in “Guys and Dolls Jr.,” running this Friday, Jan. 31 through Sunday, Feb. 2 in Dunmore.
Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical comedy, “Guys and Dolls Jr.” follows gambler Nathan Detroit as he tries to find the money to set up the biggest crap game in town while the authorities are breathing down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for 14 years without ever getting married. Nathan turns to fellow gambler Sky Masterson for the money, but Sky ends up chasing straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown. The show takes the audience from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, but everyone eventually ends up where they belong.
Catchy tunes and high-energy dances set this production apart. Sarah Gallagher of Exeter, who plays “Arvinia” Brown (a gender-swapped Arvide Abernathy) and a dancer at the Hot Box Club at different performances, agrees.
“My favorite song is ‘Bushel and a Peck,'” Gallagher said. “The dance is really good and I like the rhythm.”
Dallas Fernandes from Wilkes-Barre, alternating the roles of Nicely Nicely Johnson and Rusty Charlie, thinks ”Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” is the best song because “All of us are a part of it, and it shows a group effort.”
Gallagher and Fernandes are joined by 13 other preteens and teens ranging from 10 to 14 years old who are “double cast” and alternate roles every performance. The young cast includes Drew Simmers (Kingston) playing Nathan Detroit and Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Lorcan Baden (Taylor) as Nathan Detroit and Rusty Charlie, Samantha Greenfield (Old Forge) as Adelaide and a Hot Box dancer, Emma Christianson (Wilkes-Barre) as Adelaide and a Hot Box dancer, Jason Berlew (Wilkes-Barre) as Sky Masterson and Benny Southstreet, Benjamin T. Gruden (Plains Twp.) as Sky Masterson and Benny Southstreet, Anna Brennan (Dallas) as Lt. Brannigan and Gen. Cartwright, Vivian Santiago (Covington Twp.) as Lt. Brannigan and Gen. Cartwright, Sarah Rose Pugliese (Wilkes Barre Twp.) as Sarah Brown and a Hot Box dancer, Alaina Scassellati (Jessup) as Arvinia Brown and a Hot Box dancer, Ava Nitch (Scranton) as Big Jule and a hotbox dancer, Dacyn Koretz (Bear Creek Twp.) as Big Jule and a hotbox dancer, and Keely Zabresky (Bear Creek Twp.) as Sarah Brown and a Hot Box dancer.
Playing two roles can be difficult, but it allows workshop participants to explore more of the show.
“The most challenging part of this production is having more than one role,” Nitch said. “It is challenging, but I enjoy doing it.”
Alternating roles is something Act Out does regularly, according to the show’s director, Kalen Churcher, of Plymouth.
“We like the idea of giving our workshop participants the chance to learn everything in a production,” Churcher said. “When you are only playing one role, you don’t always get to experience everything or may not be totally challenged. Alternating roles is challenging but, ultimately, workshop participants walk away with a better understanding of every part being important.”
Simmers, one of the oldest cast members, has served as a mentor to some of the younger actors in the cast.
“I’ve learned to stay young,” Simmers said. “I had a lot of fun being the oldest in the cast, but they all keep me on my toes.”
“Guys and Dolls Jr.” runs on the Act Out stage (150 E. Grove St., Dunmore) from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, with performances on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
“People should see this show because we all work really hard and come together to make magic happen,” Gruden said.