On Tuesday, the sky was gray and a cold rain fell on the Vineyard. Snow was forecast in a few days and the dull lull of February seemed to seep through everything and everywhere — except the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center. Inside the theatre, the cast and crew of the upcoming high school play were transforming the space into a sultry Havana nightclub for the production of Guys and Dolls, opening on Thursday, Feb. 16.
Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown, played by Ben Nadelstein and Tessa Whitaker, danced, sang and traded quips onstage, as director Brooke Ditchfield, seated in the seventh row, center aisle, called out occasional suggestions. Mostly, though, she watched and laughed. Ms. Ditchfield is as encouraging a director as you will ever find.
The search for the annual play begins about a year before, she said. “We look at the student body, who we have, what their talents are, who are seniors and juniors. We want to find something that will stretch them.”
Guys and Dolls is a big production which suited the large turnout of students. The department keeps growing every year, Ms. Ditchfield said. To give the production a more contemporary spin one group of gangsters is made up of all women, she added.
Samantha Cassidy plays Adelaide, Nathan Detroit’s girlfriend, and by the look of things took the common theatre adage to break a leg too literally. She walked through her lines on crutches, having recently turned an ankle. But she will be ready by showtime, as will Liam Weiland who plays Nathan Detroit, but was missing from Tuesday’s rehearsal. An accomplished singer, actor and musician, he was doing a college audition at UMass Amherst on Tuesday.
Guys and Dolls will be performed at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center on Feb. 16, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m., and on Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door; $10/adults, $8/kids.