The musical production 'Guys and Dolls' runs this weekend at the '62 Center.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The show must go on.
That's what Mount Greylock Regional High School teacher Jeffrey Welch knew when he found out last November that the annual spring musical he directs would not be able to be performed at the school because of fire code issues in the auditorium. Not willing to let that derail the 15th annual spring production, Welch and Principal Mary MacDonald began looking around for another venue.
They found Williams College, which is letting the students use the prestigious MainStage of the college's '62 Center for Theatre and Dance for their two performances of "Guys and Dolls" this weekend, at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8.
"They said, 'Come on down,'" Welch said Tuesday while rehearsing for the only the second time in the '62 Center.
"Williams has been very generous."
Welch said the college took the time to train students to run the sound and light board themselves, there is a real orchestra pit for the live musical accompaniment that has become a staple of the spring musical, the stage allows for backdrop changes that had not been possible at the school, and the students are excited about having actual dressing rooms and makeup mirrors, amenities that also are not available at the school.
"That's the real deal," he said. "We get spoiled here."
Still, Welch said he wished the auditorium issues at Mount Greylock could have been worked out, making the logistics easier. He was not able to use the auditorium for rehearsals, which were held in the school's cafeteria until moving to the '62 Center this past Monday.
"It's nice to be able to rehearse in your performance space," he said. "I had no small amount of anxiety about moving over.
"[The students] are doing great."
One of those students, senior Schuyler Burbank, is performing in his last spring musical before heading to either Skidmore or Hampshire College in the fall to study history and vocal performance. He agreed with Welch, saying it was an adjustment when rehearsals moved to the college but that he was optimistic with the outcome.
"We're having to get used to the larger atmosphere," he said. "There's still a few rough spots but we'll have them all ironed out."
He and junior Jacob Paul said they were both liking the feel of the professional environment of the '62 Center. Paul said the audience is closer to the stage than at the school, and it's a nicer theater, and he appreciates that.
"It feels like, 'Whoa, we're on the MainStage,'" he said.
"Not like, 'Whoa, we're at our school,'" Burbank added.
Burbank plays Benny Southstreet and Paul plays Sky Masterson in the performance of "Guys and Dolls," an oddball romantic comedy that is considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy. Welch said he thought it was a perfect choice for Mount Greylock.
"It seemed to fit the talents of the returning students while leaving the doors open for new students," he said.
The show involves students from Grades 7 through 12 in the cast, on the tech and stage crews, and in the pit orchestra. Vocal direction is done by chorus teacher Kate Caton, the pit orchestra is directed by district band teacher Lyndon Moors and Ann Marie Rodriguez is the show’s choreographer
The play contains a cast of vivid characters who have become legends in the canon, including Sarah Brown (played by sophomore Nicole Jones), the upright but uptight "mission doll," out to reform the evildoers of Time Square; Paul's Masterson, the slick, high-rolling gambler who woos her on a bet and ends up falling in love; Adelaide (played by senior Evelyn Mahon), the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she's been engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit (played by senior Steven O’ Brien), her devoted fiance, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game.
Everything works out in the end, thanks to the machinations of Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling's hilarious, fast-paced book and Frank Loesser's bright, brassy score, which takes the audience from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City.
And in a case of life imitating art, everything is working out in the end for the cast of the annual spring musical that was saved by Williams College.
"They have been nothing but generous with their time and expertise," Welch said.
Mount Greylock Regional School District will present "Guys and Dolls" at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8, at the '62 Center on Main Street in Williamstown. Tickets are $6 for students/seniors and $8 for adults and can be purchased at the door on show nights.