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Concordia students bet on love, dance, and music in 'Guys and Dolls'

The cast sings "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" during rehearsal.

Love is a gamble that might be worth a risk in the classic golden-age musical comedy “Guys and Dolls,” the second performance of Concordia Theatre’s 2023-24 season.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Nov. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 12, all on the mainstage of the Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre at Concordia College.

Cast members of "Guys and Dolls" gather in a group to sing.

With a cast of 21 players and a crew of 20, “Guys and Dolls” tells the story of gambler Nathan Detroit (Jacob Hanson), who is quickly running out of places to host his floating craps game because the local police are closing in. Plus, his longtime fiancée, Adelaide (Mary Noah), is getting tired of waiting for him to marry her after their 14-year engagement. Nathan might have a reprieve when smooth-talking high-roller Sky Masterson (Carlos O’Ryan) comes to town and the two make a bet on whether Sky can convince a straitlaced anti-gambling Salvation Army sergeant, Sarah Brown (Patrice Eakman), to go on a date with him — to Havana, Cuba.

The stakes are high, with plenty of singing, dancing, and light-hearted romance along the way.

“I’m so enjoying my time here,” said Denise Holland Bethke, the show’s director and choreographer, praising her students for their hard work.

She singled out their singing abilities as exceptional, noting they picked up that part of the performance remarkably quickly and demonstrated high-level skill throughout. As only a few of them had any dance training before “Guys,” that didn’t come as easily — but they still arrived at rehearsals bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready and willing to work until they had the moves, too.

Be creative and take risks.”

Jacob Hanson '24

Concordia College student

Much of the set, designed by Christian Boy, associate professor of theatre art, and depicting the signs and lights of a Depression-era Times Square, was made by students and overseen by staff. Some costumes are rented, while others are made.

Unlike some previous productions, “Guys and Dolls” is using recorded tracks as musical accompaniment, which poses some challenges to performers, whose timing must be exact. However, the tracks can and have been customized to fit the Concordia students’ performances, too.

Hanson ’24, who has previously performed in “Into the Woods” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” said this show has featured far more dancing by comparison. He auditioned for a few parts, including that of Sky Masterson and another gambler, Nicely Nicely, but the best chemistry found him in the form of lovable rapscallion Nathan Detroit.

“He is a bundle of chaos,” said Hanson, who is majoring in vocal music education. “He loves his fiancée so deeply.”

 He advised anyone interested in participating in upcoming Concordia shows to give it a try.

“Be creative and take risks,” he said, perhaps with a nod to his gambling alter ego Nathan.

Eakman ’25, who portrays Sgt. Sarah Brown, saw “Guys and Dolls” when she was in middle school, and loved the music Sarah gets to sing during the show — especially “If I Were a Bell” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.”

“(Sarah’s) a character who really, really develops, and becomes a different person by the end of the show,” Eakman said.

As a theatre major with an English minor, Eakman hopes to become a stage actor after her graduation, but she encouraged students who aren’t majoring or minoring in theatre to join a show too.

“I think one of the best parts about our program, which is different from some other college theatre programs, is that you don’t need to be a major or a minor to participate,” she said. “We get a wide array of people, which I think is really wonderful.”

Tickets to the show are free to Concordia students, alumni, faculty, and staff, as well as to prospective students and their families. For other visitors, they are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

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Sky: Carlos O’Ryan

Sarah: Patrice Eakman

Nathan: Jacob Hanson

Adelaide: Mary Noah

Aunt Alba: Lauren Strand

General: Megan Gunnerson

Nicely Nicely: Parker Degerness

Benny: Samuel Zimmerman

Rusty: Jackson Peterson

Brannigan: Isaac Wayne

Harry: Aidan Sears

Big Jule/Drunk: Martin Henke

Calvin: Ross Motter

Brandy Bottle Bates: Charlie DeNet

Ensemble: Ross Motter, Charlie DeNet, Jeremiah Russell, Aidan Sears, Jackson Peterson, Martin Henke, Zoey Zachek, Autumn Dovere, Ashe Aydt, Alaina Hagestuen, Elisabeth Grack, EllyAnna Foner


Stage Manager: Kiley Snobeck

Assistant Stage Manager: Sierra Smith, Jenna Slendak, Jackson Peterson, Lauren Strand

Run Crew: Oliver Fluegel-Murray

Light Board Op: Caroline Cronk

Spotlight Ops: Travis Schempp, Anna Hartung, Zeke Langemo

Sound Board Op: Caden Nestler

Sound FX Op: Matthew Mondry

Costume Manager: Annika Widenhoefer

Costume Crew: Jaden Giles, Falisha Dale, Elizabeth Alexander

House Manager: Mara Johnson

Assistant House Manager: Katrina Ustanko

Master Electrician and Assistant to the Lighting Designer: Isabelle Vos

Microphone technician: Nick Savidge