In this musical classic about gambling guys and the dolls who fall in love them, money and religion cross paths when Nathan Detroit needs to find a location in New York for his floating crap game and the members of the Save-A-Soul Mission need to find some sinners. So perhaps its fitting that the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana puts their show on in a converted church just across from their classrooms that are located in a refurbished bank. Fitting or not, the school put on an entertaining production of this Frank Loesser musical.

The plot revolves around two couples including the unlikely pairing of straight-laced Save-A-Soul Sergeant Sarah Brown and sky-high gambler Sky Masterson. Tayler Mettra is Sarah whose stiffness and notable lack of interest in the confessing gambler Sky Masterson provides a stark contrast to her amusing transformation once she’s had a couple glasses of Bacardi-flavored milk in If I Were a Bell. She’s also got a beautiful voice. As Sky, Justin Whitaker also has a good singing voice making for some great duets – especially the ballad I’ve Never Been in Love Before. He also uses his voice to imitate his father giving him advice – a voice that sounds a lot like Marlon Brando in a humorous nod to the film version of the show.

And then there’s the other couple, the hilarious pairing of floating crap game organizer Nathan Detroit and his fiancé of fourteen years, lead nightclub dancer Miss Adelaide. Robert Anderson is a thoroughly likeable Nathan – an average, imperfect Joe who likes his role of running the game (he leads a teary-eyed sentimental tribute to the “oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York”), loves Adelaide, and just can’t seem to be completely successful in either endeavor. Nina Herzog is a dynamite Adelaide with tons of personality and originality. She mouths the words to the silly love poem she wrote as Nathan reads it, turns in a hilarious solo lamenting her psychosomatic cold from being forever a fiancé and never a bride, and is so genuinely sad over her final breakup with Nathan in the Sue Me scene that for the first time it actually choked me up a bit. A triple threat, she also nails the role dancing-wise and vocally whether she’s leading her flirty and talented Hot Box Girls (great, playful choreography by Gemma Hebson) or belting out her plot to Marry the Man Today and change him tomorrow with fellow gambler-lover Sarah Brown.

Supporting cast members are led by Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Good Time Charley, with Lamont O’Neal and Javier Lacayo combining for a lively title song duet and getting the show started by teaming up with Matthew Lindgren with some horse handicapping in Fugue for Tinhorns. Lamont O’Neal is a master of comedy and expressions, with eyes that speak volumes – one of those actors that makes you want to laugh every time he walks out onto the stage. And he leads the cast in an exuberant retelling of his dream in Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.

The ensemble shines in that scene and is highlighted by the Hot Box Dancers at the club and the Havana dancers Sydni Beaudoin and Ryan Morton who precede a good bar fight scene. The musical is based on the stories by Damon Runyon, and Director Karen Culliver had the cast read the stories and encouraged the ensemble to become specific characters from the book. It worked. The ensemble becomes more than just generic New Yorkers. They seem to be three-dimensional and colorful characters that include a prizefighter (Brandon Marriott), a couple of high-falutin’ Broadway actors (Alena Mealy and Hayes Thornton), a couple of excited bobby socks girls (Chloe Hadland and Bonnie King), an apple seller (Laura Schultz), and an enthusiastic, bright-eyed tourist played by Chase O’Donnell who is bowled over by the sights of New York City where there are no sure bets on what kind of doll might fall for a certain kind of guy.

Performs November 1 - 4, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
~ The Fine Folks of Runyonland ~
Nathan Detroit: Robert Anderson
Mimi: Carly Barnette
Lily: Sydni Beaudoin
Brandy Bottle Bates: Dario Caudana
Mickey Carrigan the cop: Avery Grant
Sally the bobby sockser: Chloe Handland
Miss Adelaide: Nina Herzog
Suzie the bobby sockser: Bonnie King
Benny Southstreet: Javier Lacayo
Rusty Charlie: Matthew Lindgren
Veronica: Gabriela Luna
Lt. Brannigan: Mike Malek
Angie the Ox the prizefighter: Brandon Marriott
Violet Grace the Broadway actress: Alena Mealy
Louie the Lug the pickpocket: Julia Manis
Society Max the owner of the newsstand: Ryan Morton
Hilda the tourist: Chase O'Donnell
Rose: Nicole Ogurek
Nicely-Nicely Johnson: Lamont O'Neal
Good-Time Charlie: Dez Rhoden
Widow Crumb the apple seller: Laura Schultz
Harry the Horse: Adarius Smith
Marge the tourst and Big Jule from Chicago: Hannah Solow
Oliver Cliff the Broadway actor: Hayes Thornton
Sky Masterson: Justin Whitaker

~ The Save-A-Soul Missionaries ~
Calvin: Karrington Chaney
Sarah Brown: Tayler Mettra
Martha: Grace Mulkern
Arvide Abernathy: Krisman Neville
General Matilda Cartwright: Laura Schultz
Agatha: Rachel Viele

~ The "Hot Box" Girls ~
Mimi: Carly Barnette
Lily: Sydni Beaudoin
Alison: Chloe Hadland
Miss Adelaide: Nina Herzog
Peggy: Bonnie King
Veronica: Gabriela Luna
Violet Grace (the actress turned waitress): Alena Mealy
Fergie: Julia Manis
Trixie: Chase O'Donnell
Rose: Nicole Ogurek

~ The Gang at the El Cafe Cubana, Havana ~
Lola the specialty dancer: Sydni Beaudoin
Gabriela: Gabriela Luna
Cisco: Brandon Marriott
Rosa: Alena Mealy
Ramone the specialty dancer: Ryan Morton
Maria: Nicole Ogurek
Rico the waiter: Hayes Thornton

Director: Karen Culliver
Choreographer: Gemma Hebson
Musical Direction: Chuck Gross
Technical Director: Joey Ancona
Stage Manager: Aubrey Lescault
Set & Prop Design: Alissa Trevino
Sound Design: Rebecca Kessin
Light Design: Johnny Bradley
Costume Design: Katie Wilson
Hair/Makeup Design: Cynthia Karim


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