After three months of late rehearsals, set design and construction, East Lansing High School’s student cast and crew opens their two-weekend production of Guys and Dolls tonight at 7:30pm.
For some seniors and veterans of the ELHS theater program, their last spring musical is a bittersweet goodbye to a stage they’ve made home over the years. Senior Aidan Kakela, who managed to perform in nine different plays and musicals at East Lansing, feels a strong connection to the theater community in his school. “It’s sad because it is my last show, but I know a lot more people here, and I’ve kind of grown up with them. It’s like a big family.”
Along with the Class of 2017, director Mark Shaheen is also calling Guys and Dolls his last show at the ELHS Theater. In a way, he is keeping tradition alive. East Lansing presented this classic musical once before in the ‘70s. Kate Veihl directed the production and the cast featured Timothy Busfield, who you might recognize as Mark from the 1989 film Field of Dreams.
The set design, built entirely by the student tech crew, features a crowded and hectic New York backdrop. The period costumes and music inspire a metropolitan 1950s atmosphere. Avid gambler Nathan Detroit (Joe Draheim), makes a $1000 bet with Sky Masterson (Mat Weisner) that Sky can convince mission leader Sarah Brown to go away with him to Havana. Senior Samantha White plays the lead role of the mission leader, who White describes as “very pious, prim, and proper, but she isn’t finding much success converting people to Christianity and saving their souls in New York City.” Detroit needs the money for an illegal game of craps, which ends up taking place at Sarah Brown’s mission while Sarah and Sky Masterson are away in Havana.
While he will continue teaching, Mark Shaheen will certainly be missed in the ELHS theater department, both by current students and alumni, including this reporter. He helped foster a strong theater community at East Lansing High School. As a director and teacher, his ability to inspire and create with his students resulted in many great productions.
Guys and Dolls runs March 17-18 and 24-25 at 7:30pm, with two 2pm matinees on Sunday, March 19 and 26, and a Wednesday showing at 7:00pm. Admission is $10 at the door or $5 with a student ID.
East Lansing High School is located at 509 Burcham Drive.