has a long tradition of performing school musicals, but those musicals are typically Disney-style productions. This year, the school is taking on something a little more mature: the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.
“It’s definitely not one of those little kids plays. The main storyline is about a dice game,” said sixth grader Henry Bird, who plays Lt. Brannigan.
Guys and Dolls tells the story of Nathan Detroit’s efforts to pull off a dice game and Sergeant Sarah Brown’s attempts to entice people to the Save-a-Soul Mission. The sinners and do-gooders wind up being thrown together.
(Watch a rehearsal of one of the play's musical numbers in the video above.)
The more-mature production challenges the students to hone their dramatic skills, perfect comedic timing and develop a personal style, said Peg Pavek, the play’s director and school’s art, music and drama teacher. Because most of them have been going to school together for years, they take the opportunity to play off one another.
“It’s just a thrill,” Pavek said.
The St. John’s plays are as much a community-building experience as an artistic endeavor. The students promote the play at Sunday Mass, and the church’s priests have self-deprecating walk-on roles every year. This year, the priest and retired pastor will play gambling priests.
Students start participating in the St. John’s plays when they’re in third grade—starting by performing a single song and working their way up to parts awarded through try-outs.
“It’s definitely a tradition in our school,” said sixth grader Maggie Mullen, who plays General Cartwright.
But you don’t need to be a parishioner to enjoy the play. The students started practicing in early January. Students in some roles practice five to seven times per week. The play has fast, catchy songs, musical numbers that take full advantage of the dance space and jokes that come fast and frequently.
“It’s really fun,” Bird said. “It’s not like one of those (plays) when you go to the Orpheum or whatever.”
If you go …
- 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 24
- 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25
Cost: $10.50 for those 17 and under, $12.50 for seniors, and $15.50 for adults. To buy tickets, call the box office at (952) 979-1111.