District 214 troupe stages 'Guys and Dolls'

District 214 troupe stages 'Guys and Dolls' for summer show

An all-star cast will perform the classic Frank Loesser musical "Guys and Dolls," opening Thursday, July 7, in Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

The production, which brings together singers and dancers from across District 214 schools, is a Damon Runyon-esque romantic comedy set in 1950s New York. The story follows a sly gambling man, Sky Masterson, as he gets mixed up at his own game and falls in love with a prim missionary.

Leo Walker of Wheeling High School, the musical's student public relations director and a cast member, talks about this year's all-district summer musical and how it still resonates with different audiences.

Q. How well do you think today's audience will be able to connect with "Guys and Dolls," which was first performed and takes place in the 1950s? Has the musical changed throughout the years, and does its overall message carry over today?

Walker: I think that no matter what kind of love story it is, people can connect to it in any sort of way. There is deception, laughter and miscommunication in this show, so we can all connect to its representation of relationships, whether it be friendships or romantic relationships. This musical takes a deeper look into what relationships are; in this way, it carries over many generations.

Q. This show was pulled together pretty quickly. How'd that work out?

Walker: When we first began, we had lead actors at the national speech competition or touring in Europe, so we had to rehearse without them for two weeks. Before the start of formal rehearsals, we organized two-on-two rehearsals with the leads in order to work around these obstacles.

Q. What was the overall goal with this production? What do you want everybody involved to take away from this experience?

Walker: I think the overall goal with any production is to have fun. District 214 does a summer musical every year, and I have been involved with it for the past three years. I was one of the first people to do the summer musical and have watched it grow. It's nice to take away the feeling that I was part of something, even if it's just a few weeks.

As we all spend time together during rehearsals, we gain theater experience, have fun and make new friends. What more could you want? These lasting relationships are what I want people to take away from this production.

Q. Tell me a little bit about the behind-the-scenes of the show. How does "Guys and Dolls" get put together? What kind of relationship does the cast, crew and directors have with each other?

Walker: All of our summer musicals are put together in just four weeks, unlike most school productions that take seven weeks to two months. This speaks volumes to the efficiency of our production team, as well as the cast.

There is little to no down time; we are always working and rehearsing. From spending all this time together, we have become a close-knit group. We are very accepting of each other and all of our quirks. We've become sort of a family in that respect.

Wheeling choir director Stephen Collella works with students on the musical aspects of the production of "Guys and Dolls." Courtesy of District 214
Students rehearse the choreography for the upcoming production of "Guys and Dolls," opening Thursday. Courtesy of District 214
Senior Leo Walker of Wheeling High School, left, rehearses lines with Michael Alicoate for "Guys and Dolls." Courtesy of District 214

If you go

What: "Guys and Dolls"

When: 7 p.m. July 7, 8 and 9

Where: Forest View Educational Center Theatre, 2121 S. Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights

Cost: $11 online and at the door (if available); <a href=""></a>

Details: Jeremy Morton, director of Fine and Performing Arts for District 214,

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