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Students at Galax High School have been hard at work bringing their characters to life for the Performing Arts Department’s presentation of “Guys and Dolls,” a musical that first hit Broadway in 1950.
Based stories and characters by Damon Runyon, the show follows gambler Nathan Detroit, who is responsible for the longest running floating craps game in New York.
“[The participants] find different places to play, and people come to find out where it is going to be. It’s always a secret. But [Nathan] is in trouble now because he can’t find a place,” explained director B.J. Carroll from a seat in the audience as the cast donned costumes before rehearsal.
Carroll laughs as actress Kaitlyn Martin corners Karan Kumar on the stage and hits him repeatedly with his own hat.
“Adelaide [Martin’s character] is pretty fed up with Nathan [Kumar] at this point, because he’s lied so many times and she can’t believe a word he says anymore,” Carroll explains.
Kumar’s character crumpled to the ground and begged for mercy as Martin’s wailing continued.
When asked about how the cast was chosen, Carroll explained that the play was actually picked for the cast, who had dynamic styles and a flair for comedy. So, Carroll chose “Guys and Dolls” because she felt that it best suited them.
“It’s their senior year, so I thought, ‘let’s do something wild and crazy, and have some fun with it,” she said.
With help from her crew, Carroll designed a set complete with two rotating platforms for quick set conversions. All sides of the platforms were utilized to create the various scenes throughout the play.
Carroll thanked Logan Webb, Cheyenne Anderson, Paul Bowen and Marco Mejia for their help during the play’s development. "I have such a great crew, they worked for six weekends back to back, and that’s a lot of time to give up,” she said.
The play features State Champion Humorous Duo winners Karan Kumar and Jacob Kohl as Nathan Detroit and Nicely-Nicely Johnson, and State Best Actor winner Jesse Phillips as Benny Southwest. These students won awards in Virginia High School League competitions.
“The three of them have been doing shows since eighth grade,” Carroll said. They began with acting parts and backstage work, and have since progressed to playing star roles.
“These three are also best friends, and they got together and played around with the parts, reading, finding things and trying things out. They’ve required very little direction.”
Antonio Martinez stars as Sky Masterson opposite Caitlyn Wilson as Save-A-Soul Mission leader Sarah Brown. The principal cast is rounded out with Kaitlyn Martin as Miss Adelaide, Detroit’s fiancee.
Adults and faculty consist of GHS teacher E.J. Saul as Lieutenant Brannigan; school board chairman Ray Kohl as Brown’s grandfather, Arvide; piano by Belinda Kohl; and coach Mark Dixon in his stage debut as “Big Jule."
Guys & Dolls Cast
Nicely-Nicely Johnson — Jacob Kohl
Benny Southwest — Jesse Phillips
Rusty Charlie — Mark Bowen
Sarah Brown — Caitlyn Wilson
Arvide Abernathy — Ray Kohl
Nathan Detroit — Karan Kumar
Miss Adelaide — Kaitlyn Martin
Sky Masterson — Antonio Martinez
Harry the Horse — Spencer Dillon
Big Jule — Mark Dixon
General Matilda B. Cartwright — Christena Clifford
Angie the Ox — Paul Bowen
Corporal Calvin/Havana Dancer — Andrew Jordan
Joey Biltmore’s Voice — Josh Peters
Mimi — Shatlyn Ayers
Agatha — Morgan Collier
Lieutenant Brannigan — E.J. Saul
Crap Shooters/Dancers — Marco Mejia, Anthony Kuang, Kameron Underwood, Liam Tabor, Connor Tabor and Justin Poole
Dancers — Alicia Martinez, Selena Martinez, Cecilia Soto, Mayra Perez, and Madison Parks
New Yorkers — Cheyenne Anderson and Logan Webb
Additional cast — Seth Boyles, Joseph Dixon and Brett Isom
Special thanks to: Denise Martin, Carl Ayers, Jeff Combs, Amber Couch, Mark Dixon, Harold Holliday, Aaron Horton, Justin Iroler, Belinda Kohl, Ray Kohl, Bill Mathieu, Donnie Ramey, E.J. Saul, Jeff Sharpe, Chris Sklar, Jessica Snow, Bill Sturgill, Eric Tatum, Jarrod Wilson and Shawn Wilson.
“Guys and Dolls” is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International, and is based on the story and characters by Damon Runyan, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. This weekend’s performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Galax High School Auditorium. Tickets are available at the Galax Visitor’s Center, Galax High School and at the door. Seats are $10.