Performing groups unite for school's first musical


April 16, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 15, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.

Brittany Norman, who is playing Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls," rehearses   at Victoria East High School.

Brittany Norman, who is playing Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls," rehearses at Victoria East High School.

Brittany Norman bounced her hips, wrapped her arms around her chest and flipped her platinum blond hair. Behind her, a line of stage-mates wiggled their bottoms at the empty auditorium.

"I love you, a bushel and a peck," she sang. "Loo-dah-loo-dah-doooooo!"

It was jingle that united dancers, theater-types and choir folk for the first time.

"All of our worlds are clashing right now," she said. "You have to be an all-around person."

East High School is preparing for its first school musical, "Guys and Dolls" by Damon Runyon. The show will play Tuesday and Wednesday at the campus and is the first district musical for many years.

"We have this brand new school. We have these beautiful facilities - that's why they built them - so we're going to use them," said Mandy Heinold-Sulac, theater director.

More than 50 students are involved doing everything from designing lights, costuming, to playing in the live orchestra.

"The greatest part about having a musical is they do get to experience all of these different performing arts, all at the same time," Heinold-Sulac said.

The story follows the efforts of a compulsive gambling New Yorker during the 1940s as he tries to stage an illegal craps game before the police can stop him or his girlfriend can catch him. At the same time, another gambler tries to find romance with a pious mission worker.

"It's really good for all the students to come together and experience something that you have to put a lot of effort and work into, to create something that everybody can enjoy," said Christopher Chambless, who plays multiple characters in the show.

The students work until late in the evening, and everything is entirely volunteer work. No one gets class credit.

"I love being out in front, so this is like the best of all worlds," Brittany said. "I get to sing, act and dance."

Raymond Yancey, a junior who will play the lead gambler, Nathan Detroit, has previous musical experience but believes the live orchestra will change the performance.

"It just makes it like, 10 times more awesome, and if you screw up, it's not on CD so everybody's not like 'ah, he messed up,'" he said.

Heinold-Sulac believes the hours of practice builds creativity, commitment and friendships.

"When they stick with it, and they're committed like this, that's a big deal," Heinold-Sulac said. "That shows a lot about their character."



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