Singing plays a lead role in the musical, “Guys & Dolls.”
So it’s a good bet that anyone auditioning to be in the play has tested their pipes.
Or their name is Kaitlin Barrailer.
“It has been humbling,” said Barrailer, a junior starring in “Guys & Dolls,” now on stage at Oak Harbor High School until May 12. “I’m a band student. I play the flute. I thought it might be new, fun and interesting to be in a musical and expand my horizons. I never expected to get as big of a role as Sarah.”
But she’s got the chops to act, as one of the Brooklyn betting guys in this classic Broadway show might say.
Barrailer started young in the Whidbey Playhouse youth program, appearing in “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Beauty & the Beast Jr.”
As Sgt. Sarah Brown with the Save-A-Soul Mission, she proves she’s a different kind of triple- threat musician, actor and singer.
Some in the large cast had no acting experience when they bravely auditioned about two months ago, said director Linda McClean, who is a drama and vocal instructor at North Whidbey Middle School.
“I was hard on them, constantly pushing them to rise to the next level,” she admitted. The students’ tenacity both surprised and impressed her.
“We have rehearsed 7 1/2 weeks to put this show together, with at least 100 people involved and every person has given 100 percent.”
“Guys & Dolls” takes place in the 1950s in New York City. The guys in the cast not only had to wear zoot suits from that era, they had learn what they were — along with other dated references, such as Studebaker, Howard Johnson’s and Emily Post.
“I had no idea what “Guys & Dolls” was,” said senior Kenyon Sirak, who wears a red-and-white checkered suit, yellow tie and classic hat as Benny Southwest. “I’ve been learning as I go.”
Sirak is another Whidbey Playhouse alum. Other familiar faces from Oak Harbor’s community theater are Ella Langrock, in the starring role as Adelaide, Elijah Marth, starring as Nathan Detroit, and Carl Davis, who’s been acting at Whidbey Playhouse for just one year, most recently in “The Producers.”
Davis plays the notorious gambler Sky Masterson, who makes a bet with Nathan Detroit involving the unsuspecting Sarah.
Meanwhile, Adelaide is setting a trap to finally nail down Detroit, to whom she’s been engaged for 14 years.
It’s a story of luck, love and the underside of hopes and dreams on Broadway. The story is based on two short stories by Damon Runyon and it premiered on Broadway in 1950 and ran for 1200 performances.
There are many fun scenes showing off the line of gangstas with names like Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Harry the Horse and Angie the Ox shooting craps, hanging out on the streets and yanking the chain of New York’s finest, Lt. Brannigan, played by Andrew Van Auken in his second high school production.
Langrock and Sirak are best at putting on da distinct New York accents; Langrock also sings a moving performance in “Adelaide’s Lament.”
The Hotbox dancers and Mission Band are part of the 32-member cast.
Chris Douthitt, the high school’s video teacher and force behind “Wildcat TV,” also branched out.
“This has been one of my all-time favorite musicals,” he said. “I wanted to be in this thing for so long. But I can’t sing. But I can do character voices.”
Douthitt makes a few surprise appearances throughout the show — and he’s definitely a character.
Pulling together the dialogue, dancing and singing was one of the biggest challenges, McClean said.
“Everything is rehearsed in bits and pieces,” she explained. “For example, actors will stand around the piano and learn the vocals and they sound amazing, then you add the dance steps and the great singing goes down the drain so it’s back to the piano.
“After running things through over and over and picking it apart and polishing, the final product begins to appear,” the director said. “Sometimes it feels like it will never come together.”
The play is accompanied by the live music of Oak Harbor High School Band members led by Darren McCoy, who was recently a finalist for a 2018 Music Educator Grammy Award.
McCoy is the play’s producer and Melissa “Micki” Gibson is assistant director and producer.