"Sit Down You're Rockin the Boat"

Taking a Chance with the Middle School Musical

  • Taking a Chance with the Middle School Musical

    Maybe it was a little dicey to expect Middle School students to take on a production of GUY and DOLLS—a musical comedy about tough guys, gamblers, showgirls, and a group of missionaries appealing for reform in the 1940s. How would twenty-first century tweens be able to act in roles from an era that seriously predates them in history, language, and culture?

    Quite well, apparently. 

    Sayville Middle School’s GUYS and DOLLS was a high-energy presentation that showcased tongue-and cheek humor, delightful character portrayals, and overall entertaining musical numbers that amazed audiences and proved that Middle School students could have enormous acting fun with a story about a bygone era.


    In the opening number Fugue for Tinhorns, while the characters Nicely, Benny, and Rusty compare their techniques for making racetrack bets, the performers (Dylan Schneider, Liam Donovan, and Carter White) showed they “Can Do” a terrific job singing and setting the mood for a promising production.

    Marching onto this scene while singing Follow the Fold, members of the local mission exhort all drunks, thugs, and gamblers to give up their evil ways. Sarah (Maya Guacci owned the role with her remarkable singing, especially in “I’ll Know,” “If I Were a Bell,” and in the lovely duet with Olivia Reiss “Marry the Man Today”) is accompanied by Brother Arvide (Kyle Finn was in fine voice for “More I Cannot Wish You”), General Cartwright (well played with convincing authoritative flourish by Maggie Mongiello) and Agatha (Amelia Wells provided excellent comic relief in all her scenes) but their attempts to raise moral consciousness fall on deaf ears.


    When “good old reliable” Nathan Detroit (Ben Flaumenhaft was dynamic overall, but especially appealing in “Sue Me”) is trying to secure a location for the “oldest established, permanent, floating crap game in New York” with mugs like the threatening Harry the Horse and the menacing Big Julie (respectively played with threat and menace by Ethan Alcantara and Jude Ramsaywak), his plans are thwarted by financial constraints and Lt. Brannigan (a standout presence in the likes of Dominic Lewis) who is hot on the trail to shut them down and arrest the whole lot of them.

    Nathan’s only chance to get ‘da dough’ is by wagering on a sure thing with the suave gambler Sky Masterson (Asher DeVerna charmingly delivered the main tough guy with a soft heart); namely, that Sky cannot convince Mission Sister Sarah to join him on a trip to Havana, Cuba.

    However, Nathan’s greatest obstacle is his long-suffering, long-time girlfriend, Adelaide who is opposed to his gambling and wants to settle down. And poor Adelaide! (Olivia Reiss was phenomenal in her dancing and singing role), as the Hot Box club’s lead entertainer, she is extremely disillusioned with her nightclub life and her single status; the latter is the topic of the song Adelaide’s Lament in which comically vents her frustration and suspicion that, as a result of Nathan’s neglect, “…a person can develop a bad, bad cold!”

    The main performers along with the supporting cast of ensemble singers and dancers ensured that the favorite show tunes—Guys and Dolls, If I Were a Bell, Take Back Your Mink, Havana, Luck Be a Lady, Sue Me, Marry the Man Today,and especially Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat (Dylan Schneider energized the dance routine with his leaps and cartwheel)hit all the right notes.

    Special thanks go to Stage Director/Choreographer Kim DuFrenoy, Musical Director Fred Diekmann, Producer/Lighting Ari L. Kramer, Sound Supervisor Joseph Albanese, Set Construction Pete Carbocci, parent volunteers, production managers, staff, and all the guys and dolls in the Middle School ensemble and crew.  Taking a chance on this Middle School Musical production certainly paid off!