By Gwendolyn Hay
The Oak Ridge High School Masquers are bringing to life “Guys and Dolls,” which will be presented at the Performing Arts Center at Oak Ridge High School from March 7-9. Directed by Dana Wham, the production is an exciting performance by the cast and crew to finish out their fourth season.
This Damon Runyon story takes place in 1950s New York City and follows Sarah Brown, an object of affection for Sky Masterson, a high-rolling gambler. Masterson must get Brown to agree to go on a date with him to win a $1,000 bet placed with Nathan Detroit, a gambler obsessed with the idea of the next game.
“This will not be your regular ‘high school production,’” said Wham, who has been involved in more than 100 shows in the region. She is the former director for the Knoxville Performing Arts Institute and has worked with multiple area theaters.
Part of what is making this Masquers production unlike any other is that many talented adults have made it a priority to volunteer their time and energy to this production.
“In the past, it was a one- or two-man job, and it was exhausting,” said Vidal Moreno, faculty sponsor of the Oak Ridge Masquers. “(But now) we are using various talented people in the school and in the community.”
Volunteers from the Oak Ridge community have stepped forward to help make this show a success. Karen Vacaliuc, who is heading up the costuming department, offers up her time to the Masquers because she sees the benefit that the program provides the students that are involved.
“The kids are so thankful for the efforts we volunteers are making,” Vacaliuc said. “It is very much a team effort, and I am grateful for the support.”
In addition to the team building that the production has provided, “Guys and Dolls” is a wonderful example of how the fine arts play a necessary role in students’ lives. Stephen Krempasky, scenic designer, understands the importance of fine arts to these students.
“Art allows the mind to develop new paths to solving problems, and that process can be learned, nurtured, and evolve,” Krempasky said. He volunteers his time to Masquers to help “encourage young talent” throughout the student body.
Not only are the students experiencing a positive outlet, but the entire crew is benefitting from the production. When asked how the actors give back to her, Wham said: “I leave every rehearsal energized by these wonderful human beings. They inspire me in so many ways.”
Jackie Moreno, who heads up the prop department, has helped out with multiple Masquers productions. The enthusiasm that is maintained by the students is something that continues to make the Masquers performances stand out.
“They find talents they didn’t know they had,” Moreno said. “They find a place to plant roots, then they bloom! It’s beautiful to see.”
Tickets for the event will be $7 dollars in advance. At the door, tickets will be $8 for students and $10 for adults. They will be available in the Oak Ridge High School bookkeepers’ office and at the Ferrell Shop, which is located at 235 Jackson Square in Oak Ridge.
Gwendolyn Hay is a junior at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Oak Ridge High School.
Note: The first performance is at 7 p.m. Friday. There are also performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. See our event posting for more information.