Get Lucky:Hilton Head Christian Academy presents Guys and Dolls
Author: Erin Laytham Lentz
The classic musical fable Guys and Dolls comes to life on Hilton Head Island in March with all of the grit, sizzle and heart of the original Broadway hit. In an era when gangsters were in fashion, the hurly-burly of Broadway is seen through the eyes of conniving crapshooters, sassy hotbox girls, and devout missionaries who ultimately roll the dice and bet on love in what some consider to be the perfect musical comedy with an immortal musical score that makes it a sure crowd-pleaser.
Gambler Nathan Detroit (Joey Lankowski) tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town, while Adelaide (Olivia Williams), his long-time girlfriend and lead hotbox girl is preoccupied with getting him to the altar. Sarah Brown (Jacey Robinson) and her Save-A-Soul Mission sets out to recruit sinners to redeem. Sinner Sky Masterson (Henry Clark) rolls into town and gets suckered into a bet with Nathan that leads him into chasing straight-laced Sarah. Guys and Dolls takes us from the heart of Times Square down to its sewer, and all the way to the cafés of Havana, Cuba. But eventually everyone ends up right where they belong.
Michelle McElroy, Guys and Dolls director, chose her 30-member cast meticulously. Her four leads have been long-involved in numerous Hilton Head Christian Academy productions, including High School Musical 2, Annie and Beauty and The Beast. The actors are thrilled with their character roles and eager to transform for audiences. The performers are inspired by the show’s decidedly relatable script, brilliant music and comedic choreography. “This is the first show in which I’ll just go and listen to the music,” Lankowski said.
“I love the soundtrack, especially Frank Sinatra’s version of ‘Luck Be a Lady,’” Williams agreed. Williams is a seasoned vocalist and reveals that Adelaide is a dream role. “I love playing this part because Adelaide is so dynamic. I have so much freedom with my character,” she explained. Lankowski, a senior who juggles multiple sports and music has especially enjoyed being in this show. “Everyone in this cast has talent and is dedicated; it is a tight production,” he said.
Many of McElroy’s drama students began as ensemble cast members in middle school productions or as tech crew, then evolved into upperclassmen, landing principal roles as well as performing year-round in local theaters. For some, this means pursuing long-term goals after discovering their talent and passion for the arts. With a creative leader and a blossoming group of talent, the HHCA theater program has proven to over-deliver, as evidenced by the 2015 production of Beauty & The Beast.
“For me, it began in middle school as an elective and way to meet girls,” admits Clark, who is also an aspiring musician. Since then a real love of performing has endured as he took on roles like Bert Healy in Annie and Gaston in Beauty and The Beast. “I love playing Skye, because beneath his cool masquerade, he is a hopeless romantic. I like finding that aspect in myself, too!” Clark said. “What I like about this show is the characters are so genuine.”
Robinson, a long-time dancer, found her way into drama as a middle schooler and landed her first starring role as Annie. She is especially looking forward to singing her favorite song, “Marry The Man Today,” accompanied by Williams. “Sarah is very much like myself. She thinks she has it all figured out when really she doesn’t,” Robinson said.
Rebecca Donaldson, one of the ten hotbox girls, transferred to HHCA three years ago for its developing arts program. “I love old Broadway shows! Musical theater enthusiasts will absolutely love Guys and Dolls, especially the costumes, dance styles, and kick lines,” she said. For Donaldson, working with Patti Mauer, who has choreographed three shows for HHCA, has been nothing short of amazing. “She has a vision…when she hears the music, she immediately knows the counts. She also has great patience and a knack for making people look great despite having no dance background,” Donaldson explained.
SERG has also partnered with HHCA to offer a “Get Lucky Dinner & Show” pairing for the ultimate Guys and Dolls experience. All-inclusive tickets are $55 for a delicious dinner at Frankie Bones, a Guys and Dolls performance, then an after-show drink and dessert at Wiseguys. Shows are March 17, 18 & 19 at the Seahawk Cultural Center.
In addition to Maurer’s choreography, all other technical and artistic details of the show are sure to dazzle audiences. McElroy knowingly sets the bar very high with each production and due to an abundance of creativity and drive, raises that bar with every curtain call. With the help of lighting designer John Dowbiggin, stage manager Zach Conrad and technical director Dick Sanders, every line set available in the theater will be rigged with stunning backdrops and impressive lighting displays. No element has been overlooked in this timeless tale including the costuming, designed by Kathy and Rick McGill, which is full of gambler’s flashy suits and flirty hotbox dresses. A live 18-piece orchestra led by HHCA fine arts director James Barry will not disappoint, featuring musical theater classics like “Luck Be a Lady,” “A Bushel & A Peck,” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” written by Frank Loesser.
The cast recently held a mobster-inspired photo shoot at SERG Group’s Frankie Bones and Wise Guys restaurants, which according to the actors, really brought their character personas to life. “Doing this shoot at the restaurants made us even more excited to get on the stage,” Clark said. SERG has also partnered with HHCA to offer a “Get Lucky Dinner & Show” pairing for the ultimate Guys and Dolls experience.
All-inclusive tickets are $55 for a delicious dinner at Frankie Bones, a Guys and Dolls performance, then an after-show drink and dessert at Wiseguys. Shows are March 17, 18 & 19 at the Seahawk Cultural Center. Tickets can be purchased at hhcadrama.eventbrite.com.