NEW CASTLE —
No alterations required.
When Jake Blank and Mikaylah Jewell hit the high notes of “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” it’s a perfect fit. Blank’s rich, deep tones and Jewell’s pure soprano are an ideal match and make for goosebump-inducing moments.
That’s the way Laurel High School’s entire musical, “Guys and Dolls,” has come together — almost effortlessly.
Blank and Jewell, along with Matty Conway and Jamie Ringler, have the lead roles in the show, which is a first-timer at the school. In the 37 years Charles Gryn has directed plays — this is his 19th musical — the gambling-go-wrong-but-happy-ending production is finally making its debut at Laurel.
Gryn was never a fan of the movie starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, and that thumbs down for the film version played a part in his hesitancy to stage it.
He is convinced, though, that “Guys and Dolls” is the ideal Broadway musical with a wonderful plot, tremendous music and beautiful dance numbers.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful show,” Gryn said. “It was just waiting for us.”
The director said he needed two solid male and two solid female actors, and found them in Blank, a junior who plays Sky Masterson; sophomore Conway who has the part of Nathan Detroit; Ringler, a junior who plays Miss Adelaide; and Jewell, a junior who was cast as Sgt. Sarah Brown.
The show, set in the 1950s, is a comedic/musical/dancing spree revolving around a craps game, Havana and relationship issues.
This is Conway’s first musical and first lead.
“Jamie convinced me to do it,” he said, with an easy smile as gentle ribbing takes place back and forth among the four, who are all friends on and off stage. They also share the same enthusiasm for the musical as Gryn does.
Are they a family of sorts?
“Maybe a dysfunctional one,” Jewell laughed.
“I like being a part of something big like this,” Blank said. “Overall, it’s just a great experience.”
It’s the fourth musical for Ringler, who acknowledged that with each one, she makes new friends.
On with the show.
It’s hard to believe that Blank, who performed in his first musical last year, really hadn’t sung much after he started junior high and left the elementary choir behind.
Conway did most of his singing around the house. And when he also finishes that first note, the rest is just smooth sailing.
“I grew up with a very musical family,” Jewell explained, adding she would like to double major in music and ministry at college. “Any chance I get to sing, I take it. Singing is my passion.”
Ringler, a member of the senior choir, is pleased she has a duet with her good buddy, Conway.
Rehearsals for “Guys and Dolls” began right after Thanksgiving, and Blank pointed out seeing the transformation of sets — designed by the art department — paired with the lines and music, adds to the anticipation of opening night.
As for favorite songs, Conway goes with “Adelaide’s Lament,” because of the emotions conveyed in the lyrics. Blank likes “Rockin’ the Boat,” particularly due to hearing Noah Mariani sing.
“And the choreography is sweet,” Blank said.
Undoubtedly the most recognizable song in “Guys and Dolls” is “Luck Be A Lady Tonight,” which is Ringler’s favorite.
“It’s such a powerful song,” she said, “and Jake’s singing of it is so amazing.”
Back to the rendition of “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.”
Jewell describes it as sweet and sappy.
“I’m a sappy person. That’s why I like it.”
Jewell and Ringler concur that Blank surprised them when they first heard his voice. He humbly acknowledged that, “God provided me a talent. I’m grateful.”
Mention Sinatra — who he associated with the movie version — and upbeat Conway gets even more animated.
“I love him,” he said enthusiastically, noting he appreciates that genre of music, and enjoys Michael Buble and similar crooners.
With uptempo tunes and ballads, a fun theme and an opportunity to provide about two hours of entertainment, Ringler concluded, “It’s going to be a great musical.”
This quartet agrees that “Guys and Dolls” is a good bet.
And as Jewell observes, “Music is life.”
NEW CASTLE —
No alterations required.
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