The cast and crew of the Unionville High School’s theater department are really hoping luck will be a lady – not just one night, but for three whole nights.
This Thursday, the UHS players kick off their 2013 spring musical with their production of the 1950’s era classic, “Guys and Dolls.”
Director and Charles F. Patton FCS teacher Betsy Ballard said that for her, the biggest challenge to bringing this period piece morality tale to the stage was the fact that the sets were only built in the last two weeks.
“Our production manager has practically been sleeping here,” Ballard said “The folks in the sound booth told me they’ve never seen so many people working on a stage crew before. And three of the sets require the whole stage for the scene.”
Five flyaway backdrops and numerous set pieces on wheeled platforms later, and Ballard said the production is finally coming together.
With an enormous cast and crew – just under 80 people in all – Ballard has also had to find period costumes for the 30 or so kids who appear in the production.
“Thank god for eBay,” she said.
She also said that some of the more “adult” themes have not been toned down any further than the modified version that high schools generally receive.
But with a production that has a town drunk and a group of ladies who refer to themselves as “The Hot Box Girls,” Ballard said that there is no real toning down at all.
“What we received had about six pages already cut out of it, but we didn’t alter anything further,” she said.
Based on a set of short stories by Damon Runyon, “Guys and Dolls” follows the lives of some New York City mobsters and their floating crap game, pitted against the ministrations of the local morality league and a hard-nosed police lieutenant’s anti-crime tactics.
The Tony Award-winning production, which premiered in 1950 and ran for 1,200 consecutive shows, features numerous songs that have become classics – “Luck be a Lady,” “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” among them.
Ballard said she is extremely impressed with how well the students have embraced the material – particularly with the number of illnesses and other health issues since they started rehearsals in December.
“It’s a freakishly talented cast,” Ballard said. “They’re so spot-on, it’s amazing.”
“Guys and Dolls” runs from Thursday, Feb. 28 to Saturday, March 2. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door. All shows start at 7:30 p.m. For more information or to order tickets, visit uhs.ucfsd.org.