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Sensational Show of WRHS Guys and Dolls

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WRHS Guys and Dolls poster

WRHS Guys and Dolls poster

Nathan Reich

Nathan Reich

WRHS Guys and Dolls poster

Nathan Reich, Staff Writer

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Luck was a lady Saturday night.

Actually, luck had little to do with it. The Wheat Ridge High School Performing Arts Department put on a phenomenal closing night performance of their spring musical show Guys and Dolls (written by Frank Loesser), produced by the new choir teacher Ryan Plakorus.

After months of intense preparation, including (but not limited to) construction of sets, casting, getting music, learning lines, and spending all possible free time (including weekends) practicing, Ryan Plakorus, the rest of the production staff, the cast, the crew, and the orchestra pulled off a sensational performance, receiving a well-earned standing ovation. With an intriguing (and at the same time amusing) plot, a brilliantly talented cast, a spectacular orchestra, and an extremely adept crew, the final Guys and Dolls performance was well worth $12.00.

Senior Joe McKinney stepped up to take the first lead role of Nathan Detroit, rising above expectations and doing a fantastic job. He was accompanied by female lead senior Piper Binkley, playing Adelaide (Nathan’s long-time fiance). Binkley played the role like a pro; she seemed to literally become the silly, doting fiance of Nathan Detroit. She was arguably the best performer, playing her part quite convincingly and really getting into her character, not to mention singing marvelously and in a New York accent.

Binkley’s performance was, however, paralleled by senior Peter Krausa, who played the intriguing character of Sky Masterson. Krausa also played his part to a tee, combining a fantastic voice with brilliant acting.
Fernanda Carranza, a senior, also performed admirably, playing the difficult role of the rigid Sarah Brown. Acting quite well and singing spectacularly, she pulled off the character of a smitten Salvation Army officer without a hitch.

The musical started off with a magnificent opening piece, a trio sung by junior John Kibozi, senior Matthew Sewell, and junior Brendan Jordan, each of whom performed remarkably. Sewell and Kibozi went on to sing some of the best songs (in my opinion) of the entire musical, bringing splendid talent and hilarious comedy together to perform some of the most entertaining comic relief I have ever seen. They were, undoubtedly, one of the best parts of the entire show.

The dancers also did a phenomenal job. The “Hot Box Girls” who performed with Adelaide did exceptionally well, as did the male dancers in the Crapshooters’ Dance. However, it was the Havana scene that I really enjoyed. With fantastic Latin music, pairs of dancers (rather than individuals) dancing, and a very Latin feel, I was extremely impressed.

The plot of Guys and Dolls follows the intertwined stories of two gamblers (Nathan and Sky) and their separate, and completely different, love lives. The story centers around gambling — making wagers, bets, and Nathan Detroit’s craps game.

In an attempt to earn money (for his craps game), Nathan wagers that Sky Masterson will not be able to take the Salvation Army “doll,” Sarah Brown, to Havana with him. In an effort to achieve this seemingly impossible task, Sky promises Sarah and the other Salvation Army officers that he will bring twelve “honest-to-goodness” sinners to their big prayer meeting. At first, Sarah refuses Sky, but when her mission is threatened with closure because of a lack of results, she agrees to go with Sky on the condition that he brings in sufficient sinners to prove that Sarah and her mission is a success.

Upon returning from Havana, Sky attempts to convince the crapshooters at Nathan’s game to go to the meeting, with minimal success. In fact, with no success whatsoever. In a final desperate attempt, Sky places a wager on a crap shoot: if he wins, all the crap shooters go to the prayer meeting. If he loses, he gives them each one thousand dollars.

As you can see: bets, wagers, and gambles abound. Of course, Sky wins, and everyone does go to the prayer meeting (where Kibozi stars in one of the best songs of the musical). And all throughout the musical, the audience sees the love lives of these two gamblers play out before their eyes.

One of the most entertaining parts of the plot is the one concerning the love life of Nathan and Adelaide. They have been engaged for 14 years, and Adelaide is fed up with waiting for Nathan. McKinney goes above and beyond with his part, and Binkley does exceptionally well; as a result, most of their interactions are hilarious, and all are extremely successful.

Another interesting character is Big Jule, played by the outlandish and talented senior Ian Miller. An infamous crap shooter from Chicago, Big Jule shoots with his own special dice: which are blank, as he removed the spots “for luck.”

One interesting plot point for me was the fact that there is not really an antagonist. There are, of course, characters who slow up the protagonists: the inspector who is after Nathan and the crapshooters, Big Jule who takes Nathan’s money, and Harry the Horse who refuses to let Nathan hold the crap game at his establishment are some examples. But none of these are important, evil, or disruptive characters to all the protagonists continuously throughout the show; basically, the protagonists themselves create all of the primary conflict, rather than all trying to deal with a different, powerful, malevolent character.

Getting back to the people who put on the sensational performance, I cannot omit the praises of those who are less sung of. The skilled crew, for one, deserve praise just as much as the talented cast: for one thing, the set they made was amazing. Three huge backdrops, with backgrounds on both sides, dominated the scene.They also conducted the scene changes smoothly. With these extraordinarily efficient and speedy scene changes and fantastic backdrops and props, I would say that the crew performed their part of the show flawlessly.

The sound was dazzling and the lights were breathtaking, and vice versa. The spotlights, when used, were spot on, and when not used, I didn’t think they were needed. The sound was expertly controlled, raising the volume when the singers were too quiet, and lowering it when necessary. Both of these, often taken for granted, can make or break a show. For this performance, they definitely helped make it.

The orchestra is another group who is not given enough credit. Accompanying the vocalists, which entails giving a pleasant background without overshadowing the singers, is a difficult task. They managed it extremely well, particularly during the Havana scene (although I am biased, being partial to Latin music). According to members of the orchestra, during the second performance of the show, which was Friday night, they, the musicians, did not perform nearly as well. Saturday, however, they were astounding. Of course, music will never sound perfect to critical ears, but the Guys and Dolls orchestra came pretty darn close.

The costume design and make-up were, in my unprofessional eyes, perfect. I could find no fault with them, and I loved the hats all of the men were wearing most of all. Of course, Plakorus, Charles Craig (the band director), and the rest of the production staff did a phenomenal job, and also deserve a shout out.

All in all, I would say that Wheat Ridge High School’s 2018 production of Guys and Dolls was a smashing success. The combination of a talented cast, accomplished crew, skillful orchestra, and good leadership and organization made for one pretty heck of a good play; and luck had nothing to do with it.

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