Karlee Van De Venter
Five Star Journal
Over the past several years, the Ike Players have been going above and beyond. Ever since the 2013 production of Annie Get Your Gun, each musical has exceeded expectations. With the combined talents of Petey, Clark, and Moore leading the cast, crew, and pit, many students over the years have gone on to continue with theatre and their varied passions. Every year, the pressure to have a performance that surpasses the last is even higher. So with such a large chunk of the department graduating last year, will Guys and Dolls be able to follow in the footsteps of the past productions? With one more week of performances, it looks quite promising.
Throughout the musical, the combined vocals of Nicely-Nicely Johnson (played by Alberto Lechuga) and Benny Southstreet (Dawson Kirschner) elevate each other with gorgeous harmonies. Occasionally accompanied by Harry the Horse (Spencer Hert), the musical talent is thriving. The three upperclassmen have such unique voices that are so different from each other balance out extremely well in each number. These numbers include Fugue for Tinhorns and Guys and Dolls.
The oxymoronic tones of the Mission Band (Madison Kopp, Jarom Layton, Sandra Land, Isabella Parker, and Gabii Reyes) following the Gangsters (Ivan Baumbach, Anthony Dagenais, Quinn Hatton, Josef Jenson, Isaiah Lopez, Cristian Rodriguez, and Andrew Turnball) is led by senior Kaya Luppino, who plays Sarah Brown. Even when accompanied with six other vocalists, her prominent soprano voice is exceedingly impressive. Sarah has to sing numbers that go from hymns to romantic duets, and pulls off each one (like Follow the Fold and If I Were A Bell). Although her voice will sometimes outshine her duet partner, the talent is insanely recognizable. Sky Masterson (Tanner Adkison) has a vastly different voice, but they still harmonize in each duet. They sing together in the numbers I’ll Know and I’ve Never Been In Love Before. Nathan Detroit (DJ Van De Venter) is often the subject of the Gangsters numbers, and brings his vocals to the spotlight. Him and the other gangsters consistently surprise the audience with impressive choreography (by Morgan Van Vleck) and astounding harmonies. Their numbers include The Oldest Established, The Crapshooters’ Ballet, Luck Be a Lady, and Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat. These numbers are a fan favorite of the musical and something to look forward to at each performance.
Adelaide (Sierra Hutton) and the Hot Box Dancers (Hailey Adkison, Hannah Boucher, Jordyn Hunt, Jennifer Lundh, Moira McGregor, Abby Palomarez, and Melody Reed) are another fan favorite, but possibly for another reason. They’re performers at the local strip club, and even have a small (but noticeable) stripping scene at the beginning of Act Two. The choreography in their two numbers, A Bushel and a Peck and Take Back Your Mink, is quite intricate and usually includes a formation that centers Adelaide.
One continually humorous element of the musical is the engagement of Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide. They’ve been engaged for 14 years, which is causing Adelaide to literally become sick, but Nathan keeps putting it off, claiming “we ain’t ready.” Adelaide sings about the cold this causes in the astounding performances of Adelaide’s Lament and the Reprise. The vocals reach notes so high they ring through the theatre, and notes coming deep from the throat, thanks to Hutton’s impressive vocal scale. The subject comes up again in her duet with Nathan, Sue Me.
The scene in Havana is one where the audiences eyes stay peeled, for fear of missing the action. While Sarah Brown gets more and more drunk, the Cuban Dancers (Skyler Henriquez, Spencer Hert, Isaiah Lopez, Moira McGregor, Jiscel Ramos, Cristian Rodriguez, Andrew Turnball, and Brenda Villa) go from dancing in a pristine salsa to an enticing fight scene, including everything from pushing to hair pulling to repeated punches. This scene shows theatrical maturity in the cast, as they convince the audience in each performance with cat fights and nose punches.
The role of Arvide Abernathy (Jon Hardy) is a very special piece of this production, as it’s played by an Eisenhower alumni member, who was in Ike’s performance of Guys and Dolls when he was a high school student. With the heartfelt performance of More I Cannot Wish You, and the charming charisma consistently portrayed, everyone notices the smart decision of adding in some alumni.
At the turning point of the musical, Sarah Brown and Miss Adelaide bring their vocal talents together in the number Marry the Man Today, which shows off the extreme talent in both of the actresses voices.
The antagonist, Lieutenant Brannigan (Aidan Yolo) gets his comeuppance repeatedly throughout the show and is a large source of humor. While he spends the entire performance trying to catch Nathan and his Gangsters in their floating crap game, his luck never turns, because when he finally catches them all together, they’re sitting reverently in the middle of a prayer meeting.
Another antagonist, Big Jule (Ryan Kerslake), has a monotonous attitude through the entire musical, with blunt statements and obvious cheating. Smoking a cigar and carrying a gun through every scene, he’s easily intimidating and part of Nathan’s reasoning behind his mad dash for a location.
With surprise news from General Cartwright (Avi Anderson), the Save A Soul Mission relies on Sky Masterson to stay afloat. The General takes news that should be devastating as wonderful, and keeps her strict persona through it all. Being heavily religious, she encourages the crapshooters to give testimony and see how good can come from bad.
Each character looks marvelous in every costume, thanks to designer Theresa McLean and assistant Nataleigh Cash. All of the men in dashing suits, ties, and hats, accompanied by ladies in dresses (or less). Not to mention the exceptional hair and makeup designed by Alyssa Skiles and assistant Aliyah Shines. Looking like they all came straight from the 50s, we only have those four to thank.
The exceptional performances of our relentlessly talented pit is conducted by pianist Darin Kaschmitter, with over 20 members. Adapting to cast projection, remembering cues, and playing an impressive medley a few times throughout each performance, the cast remembers to give them a turn in the spotlight (figuratively anyway) at the end of each showing.
The next shows are on March 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, at 7:00 with a 2:00 matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $10 for adults. In addition, the One Acts will be in May, and the Players encourage you to audition and/or prepare for those performances as well.
All in all, the Ike Players blew the audience away in each showing of Guys and Dolls in its first week, and will presumably only get better. With humor, romance, strippers, and gambling, what more would a high school student want to see in a musical? While our talented athletes spend much time in the limelight, the cast has been working hard to impress everyone (I’m looking at you, 5th Ave Awards) and is ready for their turn. Spotlight please!