Gambler Nicely Nicely Johnson (played by Isaiah McAleese, centre) sings out his gambling woes during a scene from the B2B Teen Musical Theatre program’s production of Guys and Dolls Jr. opening Aug. 17 at the Village Theatre. — Adam Kveton

Teens take on Guys and Dolls Jr.

Bard to Broadway teen performance opens Aug. 17 in Qualicum Beach

The suits, the New York accents, the gambling, the romance, the classic music — it’s all there in Guys and Dolls Jr., opening at the Village Theatre Thursday, Aug. 17.

A group of 13- to 18-year-olds have been practising under the direction of Hilary Whelton, alumni Miranda Atkinson and others since the end of July, preparing for the larger-than-life Broadway musical from the ’50s.

The show features two gamblers — one trying to find a new venue for his notorious crap game while engaged to a showgirl who dreams of a better life, and another who falls in love with a puritanical missionary.

“There’s lots of fun, stylized comedic moments, but there’s also its fair share of love and romance,” said Atkinson.

Along with a cast of zany characters comes a very particular synchronized and sharp dance style that Atkinson is working to instil in the actors, many of whom are also having to learn how to wear a suit and tie.

Mastering the New York accents is another challenge, “but they’re rising to the occasion,” said Atkinson.

The Teen Musical Theatre program with Bard to Broadway doesn’t require any acting, singing or dancing experience, though many participants come back year after year.

Leads like Oscar Cope playing Nathan Detroit, Jasmine Tomczyk as Miss Adelaide, and Logan Pike as Sky Masterson are all back after previous experience with the program.

Though the atmosphere is fun at the Village Theatre where the group was practising Thursday, Aug. 10, the program is intensive, and expectations are high, said Whelton, who noted the group has just 13 rehearsal days to put their show together.

But the goal and the reward is seeing the young actors grow as actors and as people, agreed Whelton and Atkinson.

“Seeing them grow is just beyond incredible,” Atkinson said. “(And) knowing that their love of theatre grows with yours.”

Guys and Dolls Jr. premiers Thursday, Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach. Shows at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. take place Aug. 18, and the run finishes off Aug. 19 with a 2 p.m. matinee.

Tickets are $12.

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