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Local church draws student actors to winter musical

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Local church draws student actors to winter musical

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Sophomores Rebecca Martin, Mallory Hazell and junior Katherine Avery strike a pose during a collaborative dance number.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Sophomores Rebecca Martin, Mallory Hazell and junior Katherine Avery strike a pose during a collaborative dance number.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Sophomores Rebecca Martin, Mallory Hazell and junior Katherine Avery strike a pose during a collaborative dance number.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Sophomores Rebecca Martin, Mallory Hazell and junior Katherine Avery strike a pose during a collaborative dance number.

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BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Sophomores Rebecca Martin, Mallory Hazell and junior Katherine Avery strike a pose during a collaborative dance number.

By Megan Prendergast

As yellow feathers fluttered backstage and cast members frantically searched for missing props, the youth group at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta prepared for its 16th annual musical production.

This year’s performance, Guys and Dolls, a musical set in New York in the early 1940s, was performed by a number of youth members, 12 of them from Grady. With only minutes before the audience hushed and the lights dimmed, Youth Minister Allison Per-Lee gave her final words of advice.

“You know someone sitting in the audience tonight needs to be inspired,” Per-Lee said. “They need to see you acting, singing and dancing, and be enlightened. Bring joy to other people tonight.”

The story begins with a bet. Nathan Detroit (junior Luke Webster) bets gambler Sky Masterson (Luke’s brother and senior Jack Webster) that Masterson cannot convince the straight-laced Sarah Brown to join him on a date to Cuba. Throughout the play, Masterson attempts to charm Sarah Brown, while Detroit avoids “the matrimonial clutches of his long suffering fiancée, Miss Adelaide.”

Beginning in early November, members of the youth group were assigned roles in the musical. Per-Lee and parent volunteer Gary Shell chose the cast based partially on talent and partially on seniority.

“Per-Lee has a close relationship with all of us,” junior Miller Lansing said. “She knows who will work hard and do well.”

At first, the practices were held twice a week, Wednesday after school for about 90 minutes and Sunday afternoon for about four hours. As the cast members began to get comfortable with their roles and the play itself, singing and dancing practice began.

“I participate in the plays because they’re really fun, and I like performing,” said sophomore Mallory Hazell, who played one of the “Hot Box” dancers. “They also raise a lot of money for our mission trips which is really good since I normally go on at least two each summer.”

As the weeks progressed, cast members began to split up during practice to focus on their specific parts.

“I think my favorite part was definitely being taught the dances,” said junior Katherine Avery, who also played one of the “Hot Box” dancers. “We’d go to the church’s dance studio room on the third floor and practice separately from the rest of the cast. I had a fun time and picked up the dances quickly.”

Even though the practices grew longer and more frequent as the opening night drew closer, the cast members found pleasure in participating, said sophomore Rebecca Martin, who played another one of the “Hot Box” dancers.

“I see participating in it as one thing that I can do to help my church and my community,” said junior Patrick Wise, who played Nicely Nicely Johnson.

This year First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta raised $10,000 in ticket sales, concessions and donations.

“The play this year definitely drew a lot more people than previous years,” Jack Webster said. “It was really packed, and the good support was important.”

Although fun, the experience was not without its tense moments. During the show, Avery said costumes were getting mixed up and misplaced. The chick costumes worn by the “Hot Box” dancers shed their feathers at every turn.

Webster said the last two nights were full of tweaks, a term actors and actresses use to describe small changes to parts of the play to make it funnier.

“On the Saturday night performance, I asked Linda to bring out carrots on stage for the restaurant scene,” Webster said. “Patrick and I both ended up forgetting our lines, so we just ate baby carrots on stage for awhile.”

Throughout all of the performances, there were hiccups and road bumps.

“The Velcro on my dress broke right as I walked onstage,” Lansing said.

Lansing, one of the twelve “Hot Box” dancers, lost the adhesion on her gown. Unable to perform the first third of the dance, Lansing kept her arms glued to her side to prevent her gown from slipping down. When it was time to drop the gowns and continue dancing in their leotards, Lansing was more than relieved.

“I was so ready to drop the thing when it actually came time to take it off,” Lansing said. “The good thing was that I didn’t spoil the surprise for the audience until it was time. I just looked silly until then.”

Despite the adjustments to the play and the few mishaps, the audience got a laugh out of the play and enjoyed the performance, Per-Lee said.

“I really like their plays because they are always a lot of fun,” junior Sophie Maschinot said. “Regardless of what play they are performing, you can tell the cast enjoys themselves as well as the audience.”

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Local church draws student actors to winter musical