Monday, June 27, 2011

"Guys and Dolls" in the South Bronx: Learning to See the (Real) Value of Arts Education

A few days ago I got an email that changed everything.

It’s been a full month—and a seemingly endless succession of graduations, end-of-the-year recitals, awards ceremonies and fundraising benefits—since the kids I teach in the South Bronx put on our school’s annual spring musical, the 1950’s classic, “Guys and Dolls.” This year’s rehearsal process served up an especially overwhelming array of challenges and behind-the-scenes mayhem, all intensified by the parallel unfolding of my second pregnancy. (In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our 100-day countdown to opening night.)

“So, OK, after all of that dramatic build-up," you might be wondering, "...how did the actual show go? (And why has it taken you so damn long to write about it?)”

Well, if you had asked me last week, before the email arrived, I might have heaved an exhausted sigh and launched into what, in the end, would’ve amounted to a sob story.

For starters, I would’ve told you that due to insane scheduling conflicts, our opening night performance was the first time we’d ever had the whole cast together, so it ran more like a dress rehearsal than an actual show, with huge chunks of missed dialogue, brutally slow pacing, and countless costume and prop malfunctions.

I’d have gone on to tell you that the following night’s performance, despite big improvements in overall energy, was still plagued by major problems, not the least of which was a case of vocal strain so intense for one of our male leads that by the second act he could barely talk, let alone sing.

And then I would have hit you with the real zinger and told you that fifteen minutes before the sold-out crowd came in on closing night—after the vocally-challenged male lead had been given a cortisone shot in the neck by the only voice specialist in Manhattan willing to treat a young man from the South Bronx with no insurance on a last-minute, walk-in basis, and I was finally letting out a sigh of relief, thinking we were poised to redeem ourselves by putting on the show of our lives—the lighting designer raced up to me breathless and panicked to tell me that the dimmer rack had  blown out and that 85% of the lights were now not working at all, after which I might have told you that when I emerged from the utility closet two minutes later (following a brief but violent explosion of all the built-up tears I’d managed to hold at bay over the preceding four months) I found that the leader of our set crew had transformed a hastily-assembled army of crew kids into an impromptu lighting team who would now have to operate the dimmer rack manually from backstage, each one of them sticking a finger into one of the switches and pressing down hard to recreate some semblance of the original lighting design for each scene, which, though it didn’t yield foolproof results—(halfway through Act II the lights started flickering because Shakeel’s hands went into muscle spasms and he couldn’t keep pressure on his switch)—nevertheless got us through the show. 

At this point, I would have confessed to you that by the time the kids took their bows on closing night, jumping and dancing and beaming with pride, all I wanted to do was go home and fall down.

I would have acknowledged that although I put on a brave face over the next few weeks while the students happily reminisced about their accomplishments, I was still internally obsessing over everything that had gone wrong.

In the end, I would have admitted that for the longest time, even the simple act of sitting down to write this blog post felt so physically overwhelming to me that for weeks I haven’t been able to force myself to chronicle what—despite objective signs of positive outcomes and reminders from supportive friends and family that this work is about process not product—still felt to me like a disappointment.

But if you asked me right now, at this moment, I would have a very different answer for you… all because of a simple email from our photographer that finally allowed me to pull back and catch a glimpse of what we had created from an objective outsider’s perspective.

The change happened immediately, as soon as I opened the email and clicked the link to the gallery of photos. I moved through the images, my heart started racing, and click after click, I felt the weight and exhaustion of the last six months loosen their grip and spiral off me, leaving a fresh new feeling of excitement in their place.

I clicked faster, image after image, amazed at the force of this unexpected perspective-shift, flooded with waves of satisfaction and pride… 

Because, yes, there may have been lighting problems…

Click.


And yes, there was the cortisone shot, and the crazy scheduling… 



Click. Click.

Not to mention one of our male leads being expelled from school just over a month before opening night because he committed an illegal act on a school trip... 



The kids crying after being kicked out of the show due to failing grades…


The late nights agonizing over whether my decision to give the actor playing Sky another chance had motivated a struggling student to get his grades up and graduate, or taught a slick kid to game the system…

Click. Click. Click.

Yes, there were actors who missed rehearsals because they got jumped in the park…

Because they had to visit family members in prison…

Because their mothers had to work and no one else could look after their siblings…

Because two of their friends were shot and killed at a party on a Saturday night…

Click.

All of these things are true.

And yet…

Looking at these photographs…

Those truths receded and made room for me to step back, really see at what we accomplished, and remember why we started this program in the first place.

When I look at these pictures… 

I see integrity.

I see determination.

Most of all, I see joy.

And last Friday afternoon, after I showed the kids a full slideshow of photographs at our end-of-year wrap-up celebration, I was forced to widen my perspective even further. I found myself surrounded by a roomful of engaged, inspired young people who, even after a long and draining year, were chomping at the bit to get started on summer programming, research shows for next year, and step into leadership roles when I go on maternity leave in the fall.

Listening to them speak about what they had learned from putting on the show, I got a fresh outlook on a process whose value—I can now see clearly—undeniably transcends all of the frustration, heartbreak and exhaustion it may have entailed.

Thomas Sosa, an 11th grader who before this year had never been in a play before, summed it up well.
“I think the biggest thing I learned this year is that faith in your work goes a really long way,” he said, “especially when there are major challenges you have to overcome to get to that end product.”

Amen, Thomas Sosa.

After a year that tested my faith as an educator in countless ways, I’m beyond grateful to be wrapping up the year on that note.



Special thanks to my dear friend, photographer/videographer extraordinaire, Alejandro Duran (all photo credits). www.alejandroduran.com

As always, the students featured in this post agreed to let me share their stories; the views expressed here are my own and not those of my school’s administration.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Countdown to “Guys and Dolls” in the South Bronx, Part 3

 In case you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of our 100-day countdown to opening night of last week’s performance of “Guys and Dolls” in the South Bronx. What follows is the saga’s final chapter: a steady crescendo of logistical challenges, costume malfunctions, police confrontations, cast-member meltdowns, stressful parent phone calls, laryngitis attacks, and other behind-the-scenes drama—all leading up to a show that, while it may not win us any Tony’s, nonetheless confirmed my belief in the transformational power of making art with young people, obstacles be damned.

Curtain call at Dress Rehearsal

28 days until opening night

We’re missing 30% of the cast yet again today (SAT prep, Regents prep, storytelling workshop, talent show rehearsal, baseball practice, didn’t-read-rehearsal-schedule, dentist appointment, forgot, mom-won’t-let-her-come-because-she’s-on-punishment, remembered-but-skipped-anyway, on-probation-for-skipping-yesterday, on-probation-for-grades, on-probation-for-being-disrespectful-about-being-on-probation). The only upside is that dedicated 5th graders like set crew member Aminata get to step in as understudies and show off their acting chops. 

5th grader Aminata understudies the role of "Rusty Charlie"

25 days until opening night

Can’t use the stage again this afternoon because we got bumped by the talent show folks. After half an hour of looking for a space during which a substantial portion of the already-diminished cast scatters and has to be rounded up by a crew of high school helpers, we cram into a vacant vestibule with a boom box. By the time we buckle down to work with 15 minutes left to rehearse, I’m wiped out. Granted, no one put a gun to my head and demanded I direct a full-length Broadway show with a huge cast in a space-challenged school while six months pregnant. That one’s on me.


24 days until opening night

The 9th grader playing “Harry the Horse” is the only cast member who’s met today’s deadline for getting his lines memorized. Since he’s no longer struggling with the words, he’s got the confidence to start transforming a usually forgettable bit part into pure comic genius. Every time he opens his mouth he sends us all into hysterics.


18 days until opening night

Julie, our adult set crew mentor, on the phone near tears last night, after the talented but troubled 10th grader she’s been mentoring as stage manager storms out of yet another set crew session: “Kate, you have no idea how much I love that girl.”

Same 10th grade girl, in the hallway near tears today: “Ms. Q, you have no idea how much that woman hates me.”


16 days until opening night

The guys’ dances and scenes are looking great. It’s a blast to watch the older high school kids taking pointers from the younger actors, some of whom are literally half their size.

Unfortunately, the girls’ scenes are plagued by technical problems. Tonight we try to stage their stylized burlesque number, “Take Back Your Mink,” but since we’ve never had a proper costume fitting due to poor attendance, the choreography issues we’re supposed to be addressing are eclipsed by tear-away gowns that either fall down too early or can’t be yanked off no matter how hard the girls try.

8th grader Shane gives the male leads some pointers


11 days until opening night                              

There was a scuffle today between two groups of middle school boys. Rehearsal ground to a halt and we had a long conversation about how, in theater—as in life—you  sometimes have to think of the good of the group and resist the urge to fight back when you feel wronged.

One of the 8th graders speaks up. “Sorry, Ms. Q,” he says, “but that’s not how I was raised. My mother says that if someone disrespects me or hits me, I’m supposed to come back at them three times as hard.”

When I speak to this kid’s mom on the phone tonight she tells me matter-of-factly that I don’t know the first thing about raising a child in the ‘hood.

She’s right. I let her know that I’m struggling to help her son navigate the different cultural rules of street life versus school life. She softens. We talk a while. By the end of the conversation she’s asking me about my pregnancy and my two year old daughter at home. It hits me that, as much as I love making actual theater with kids, it’s really the conversations like these that keep me coming back to put on these crazy shows year after year.


9 days until opening night

Today the whole 12th grade class leaves for a four-day senior trip. Reeeeally bad timing. All six of our main leads are seniors and most of them are in tough shape preparation-wise.

Sky—the kid who almost got kicked out of the show because of his grades—has pulled himself together, but only barely, and has been inconsistent with follow-through.

Our new Nathan—the understudy for the student who was expelled from school—is doing great, but he’s never been in a play before and he doesn’t know his lines.

Sarah has been stellar on attendance, but she’s stretched thin with academics and shaky on her songs.

Adelaide is bursting with talent that until recently has been buried under a sour, defensive attitude. She finally opened up last  week about her personal struggles and since then, she’s been eager, respectful and flexible. Still, I’m worried the trip will derail her and her progress will backslide.


8 days until opening night

The set crew has been acting flaky lately, but tonight they stayed and worked late. We celebrated with a big family-style dinner.

Julie and her 10th grade stage manager have worked through their drama. The girl’s mother says she’s never seen her daughter more committed or dedicated to anything in her life.

Set crew dinner


7 days until opening night

Former Bronx Prep theater stars Chris Moncrief and Denisse Polanco come back from college to help out with the show. Chris just finished his freshman year at Syracuse; Denisse graduated a few days ago from Hobart and William Smith. Having them around and willing to work hard brings a huge rush of fresh energy.


6 days until opening night

It’s Chris and Denisse’s second day on the job and we decide to crank hard and pull a late night organizing costumes. At 1:30 AM we call it quits. While they sweep the gym, I unpack the box with the remaining props ordered from Amazon—satin gloves, gangster hats, fake cash and a toy gun—and discover I’ve somehow mistakenly ordered a real BB gun with real bullets. Hands shaking, thinking of the kid who plays Nathan who was shot in the shoulder in a drive-by earlier in the year (and who ironically has to sing the lyrics “Sue me, sue me, shoot bullets through me”), I hastily pack the gun into my backpack to bring home and give Chris money to go to the costume shop tomorrow and pick up a fake.


5 days until opening night

This afternoon I leave the cast with the musical director for a few minutes to step outside and reason with the cops who are ticketing the van idling by the gym door while a kid unloads rented speakers.

Expecting a respectful exchange, I ask one of the officers to give us a break considering the positive work we’re doing with kids from the neighborhood.

“Oh, changing the world one life at a time, are we?” he sneers at me. “Well, if you’re really making such a difference, who’s inside watching the children while you’re out here talking to me? You letting the inmates run the prison in there?”

All my big talk about the value of civil discourse evaporates in a haze of mama-bear rage and I have to be physically ushered back inside before I start running my mouth and getting us into more trouble. Not my finest moment.


3 days until opening night

Today the cast is distracted to the point of dysfunction over The Rapture. While 5th and 6th graders disrupt dress rehearsal huddled in a corner of the gym praying that the world doesn’t end, I’m just praying that whoever took Stephanie’s $20 gives it back. Both the specter of the apocalypse and the apparent reality that we have a thief in our midst are wreaking havoc on morale.

At 6:00 PM the world doesn’t end. At 6:02 PM the 20 dollar bill is found crumpled up under the same bleachers where it was taken from Stephanie’s wallet.

No accompanying choir of angels in either case—but both outcomes are welcome upgrades.


2 days until opening night

There are many reasons to panic tonight. The girls’ costumes still aren’t finished. Crew is scrambling to complete the set. Props have gone missing. The lighting board is mysteriously on the fritz and so is the voice of one of our male leads. But the biggest, most infuriating issue is that most of the kids still aren’t solid on their lines. I derive a moment of bleak satisfaction overhearing Chris using exactly the same language with a kid that I used on him at this same time in the same context last year: “Dude, I just can’t learn the lines for you, you know?”

Stephanie scrambles to finish the set


1 day until opening night

At midnight tonight, Chris and Denisse and I come back upstairs after a long, exhausting dress rehearsal to find the classroom that doubles as a changing room strewn with costumes, props and kids’ belongings.

I collapse in a chair and tell Chris and Denisse how sorry I am that the build-up to the show has been so tough this year. I feel miserable.

Denisse starts picking up costume items and folding them. Then she turns to me and says, “Are you kidding me? I live for this. Life would be so stale and sad and boring without this kind of stress. Anything worth doing is worth freaking out over, you know?”

I smile at her, and the frustration recedes a little. I think about the kids who have pulled their grades up from failing in order to stay in the cast. The parents and teachers who have made meals for us and chaperoned late night rehearsals. The kids and adults who have volunteered building sets, teaching dances, making costumes and running lights. The actors who I know will dig deep tomorrow and miraculously pull through—because they always do.

And at that moment, there is no place I’d rather be than here with my former students in a messy South Bronx classroom at midnight before opening night, freaking out.

***
Up next: show photos and a recap of the performances, reflections from kids in their own words, and more stories from behind the scenes. (But right now, I'm off the grid for the weekend in the woods of MA at a writing retreat with the folks from The Sun Magazine. Whoooo!)

As always, the students featured in this post agreed to let me share their stories; the views expressed here are my own and not those of my school’s administration.
 

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Guys and Dolls" Tickets On Sale Now!

You've read all about the behind-the-scenes drama... now see the show!


Click HERE to buy tickets online and have them held for you at the door!

Ticket Prices:
Students $5 / 3 or more = $4
Adults $10 / 3 or more = $8
VIP (first 3 rows) $25
Premium VIP (1st row, sparkling cider & pre-show snack) $50

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Countdown to “Guys and Dolls” in the South Bronx, Part 2

By the end of Part 1 of our 100-day countdown to opening night of “Guys and Dolls” at Bronx Prep, 30% of our cast members—including the talented 12th grader who plays Sky Masterson—are on the verge of being kicked out of the show due to grades, I’m on my way to an expulsion hearing for the 10th grader who plays Nathan Detroit, and as if there weren’t enough going on, I’m also launching into the second trimester of my second pregnancy.

Here’s Part 2 of our tumultuous—but ultimately, I hope, inspiring—journey. Stay tuned for next week’s final chapter of our countdown to “Guys and Dolls,” in performance at Bronx Prep May 24th-26th.

46 days until opening night

The expulsion hearing for the young man who plays Nathan is emotionally devastating. All ten people in the room are openly weeping pretty much the whole time, including the principal and the head of school, the teachers who have come to testify on the student’s behalf, the student’s mother, and the student himself.

In a heart-rending apology delivered with shaking hands and quavering voice, the young man admits that he’d gone against his instincts and committed an illegal action on a school trip in an effort to impress one of his alpha-dog friends who had challenged him to do something he knew was wrong.

His other teachers and I speak, each one us acknowledging this student’s otherwise stellar record of community service and school spirit. We wrestle with the excruciating clash between the value of zero-tolerance tough-love and the importance of judging young people’s actions with flexibility and nuance.

When the verdict is announced and the young man is asked to clean out his locker, his mother collapses with grief.

I’m late to rehearsal because I can’t stop crying.

44 days until opening night

The expulsion, one of several stemming from the same incident, has sent shockwaves through the school, and we’ve spent a good part of the last two days packed into the gym in deep conversation as a whole school community.

It feels good to be back here in the now-empty space on a Saturday morning, painting with the set crew. When we leave, there is a sunset stretching across the back wall of the gym’s small stage.

42 days until opening night

Today on my regular D train commute from Brooklyn to the Bronx a teenage boy stands up and offers his seat. I may have officially hit the 3-month-mark on the calendar a few weeks ago, but taking the kid’s seat today is the first time this pregnancy feels fully real. I sit on the train with my hands on my belly, thinking about the mothers of the kids I teach. Soon there will be one more person in the world I care about so much it makes my chest ache.

40 days until opening night

Nathan’s understudy, a magnetic, cheerful, naturally talented 12th grader who has never been in a musical before, misses his first week of rehearsals with his fellow leads. All week I’ve been livid, threatening to kick him out. Then I find out today that he has been attending the wakes of two friends of his who were shot and killed when a scuffle at a party turned violent last weekend. Having been shot himself in the shoulder earlier in the year—the victim of an unprovoked and unexplained drive-by—he’s not only mourning the loss of his friends but also reliving his own traumatic experience.

I pass him on the street on my way out of rehearsal late this afternoon and ask him if he’s doing OK. He pauses and musters a bone-tired smile. “Not really,” he says. Then he hugs me and says, “I’ll be there on Monday.”

37 days until opening night

Today’s Saturday rehearsal offers a momentary glimpse of brightness. While the costume crew sorts colorful clothing, a select group of dancers learns authentic Afro Cuban dance forms from dancer/choreographer Rebecca Bliss. Not only am I proud to infuse the usually-corny Havana scene with movements that come from some of our students’ own cultural traditions, I’m also excited to collaborate with Rebecca, a former fellow high school theater cast member, and now a dear friend.

35 days until opening night

Last night at midnight, third quarter grades were posted. Most of our cast members have gotten their GPA’s up high enough to participate. But despite several weeks of intensive tutoring, support, cajoling, and follow-up, our Sky has missed the mark.

This is a kid I’ve known since he was in 5th grade. He’s extremely bright and has always excelled. I don’t know why he’s given up on himself halfway through his senior year. My instinct is that something complex is going on below the surface, but with all the buzz in the air about accountability—not just in connection with our recent expulsions, but also in the national conversations about test scores, teacher firings and school closings—I feel intense pressure to enforce the grading policy I helped create. I reluctantly gear up to tell this young actor we’ll have to replace him.

Then he walks into rehearsal. His shoulders are slumped and his usually bright eyes are vacant and dim under the brim of the baseball cap he knows he’s not allowed to wear in school.

I agonize for a second. Then my teacher hardwiring kicks in. This kid needs accountability, no doubt, but right now my instinct screams that his need for support comes first. I pull the hat off his head, mentally postpone my final decision for one more day and tell him to open his script.

His first run-through is bland and lifeless. I ask him to do it again. Little by little, the role starts to do its work on him. By the third pass, he’s standing up straighter. His eyes come to life. The lines crackle; the jokes land.

Two hours later, he has completely transformed. His diction is crisp and assured. He holds himself with confidence and poise. There is a swagger in his walk.

Still, we both know there’s an elephant in the room. I send him home and tell him that we’ll need to have a big talk before the end of the week. He nods soberly.

34 days until opening night

I’ve been up most of the night, partly because the baby was kicking me, but mostly because I’ve been stressing about costumes, re-choreographing the end of the opening scene to replace kids who’ve missed too many rehearsals, and struggling over what to do about Sky.

No rehearsal today. My husband and daughter come with me to my 20 week sonogram. We find out that we’re expecting a boy.

33 days until opening night

This afternoon, after a mad flurry of emails to his teachers—some of whom are supportive of giving him a second chance, others of whom warn me that I’m being manipulated by a clever young con artist who is more like the slick-talking character he plays than I’m giving him credit for—I give Sky an ultimatum. If he’s willing to dig deep and write a letter that explains the causes of his sudden apathy, takes responsibility for his past actions, and lays out a detailed accountability plan for the rest of the school year, I will let him stay with the cast—provided he follows through on the plan he creates.

I give him a deadline of midnight tonight for the letter.

At 11:47 PM, his email arrives. The letter attached is well-written, courageous, and heart-felt.

I decide to take the gamble.


Stay tuned for the final installment of this three-part series of posts leading up to opening night of “Guys and Dolls” at Bronx Prep.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Countdown to “Guys and Dolls” in the South Bronx, Part 1

After eight years of making theater with urban teenagers and witnessing how challenges can be turned into fuel for creativity, I know that Orson Wells was onto something when he said that “the true enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” That’s all well and good, but I’m pretty sure my man Orson never tried putting on a full-length Broadway musical with a hundred South Bronx teenagers on a tiny stage in a school gym while pregnant and raising a two-year-old.

Here’s Part 1 of a condensed 100-day countdown to our production of “Guys and Dolls,” in performance at Bronx Prep May 24th-26th. Witness the mayhem, the misery, and the small moments of grace in the midst of it all, and stay tuned for Part 2 next week.


100 days until opening night

We haven’t even decided which show we’re doing this year and already we can’t seem to catch a break. I find out today that we can’t get a performance license for the “The Color Purple,” which is the musical the student leaders of the Bronx Prep Performing Arts Academy have been clamoring to put on at school ever since they saw it on Broadway two years ago.

I’m sorry that kids who’ve shown such strong initiative won’t get their first choice, and that the now-tight timing means that teachers, not students, will choose the show this year, but I can’t say I’m personally devastated by the news. Deep in the grip of first-trimester crankiness and bracing against one of the coldest, dreariest winters on record, I have to admit that swapping out an emotionally wrenching drama for some good old fashioned jazz-hands sounds like a great idea to me right now.


98 days until opening night

In keeping with tradition, we announce the spring show with a dramatic unveiling of a bulletin board outside of room 201. This year’s crowd of curious kids and teachers is bigger than ever.

After what I hope is a rousing build-up, I rip off the sheet to reveal a hand-painted poster of the New York skyline overlaid with a bright pastel logo for “Guys and Dolls.”

Usually there’s applause. Hollering. Jumping up and down.

This year? Crickets. The kids look around at each other, bewildered. It hits me that they’ve never heard of the show. A posse of high school girls peels away from the crowd and storms off down the hallway.


92 days until opening night

After a few days of stewing over the kids’ reaction to our show choice, I find out that the girls’ exit wasn’t really as huffy as it looked. As one student explains to me today, far from storming off, they’d actually almost trampled each other racing down the hall to the library to Google the show and figure out what leads to start preparing for.


87 days until opening night

I wake up this morning so nauseous and tired I can barely get out of bed, but my mood is buoyed by the turn-out at auditions. Last year we had about 65 kids. This year, 147 kids show up—nearly 20 % of the Bronx Prep student body.

Granted, this means auditions are a logistical nightmare. Not to mention a fire hazard. I agonize about how many kids we’ll have to cut. I also struggle at several points during the first round not to throw up. (I haven’t told the kids I’m pregnant yet and can only imagine what my vomiting during their singing would do to their fragile egos.)

But overall the energy is great. And the best part is that almost a third of the kids trying out are first-timers, most of them guys.


84 days until opening night

Cast list is up. Lots of crying kids. Phone calls to devastated parents. Year after year, I never get used to this part.


83 days until opening night

First rehearsal. Ninety actors packed into a room designed to hold forty-five. How did I let myself cast so many kids this year? Pregnancy hormones to blame?

I share the news that I’m expecting a baby and tell the kids they better not mess with me this year. They grin and rub my belly and promise to be extra calm, quiet, respectful and responsible. I grin back and tell them I’ll believe it when I see it.


72 days until opening night

Tragically, my over-casting might turn out not to be such a big issue after all. Today I discover that almost 30% of our cast members will be academically ineligible to participate unless they get their grades up by the end of the marking period.

The really bad news is that on the list of struggling kids is the actor who plays Sky Masterson, the male lead. Why has this bright, capable young man suddenly given up on himself halfway through his senior year with a lead role on the line?


64 days until opening night

The cast may be a hot mess, but the set crew is holding it down. With so many of last year’s set crew guys now playing roles in the show, most of the crew this year is female.

There is nothing I love more than watching an 11th grade girl teaching a 5th grade girl how to use a circular saw.


53 days until opening night

Chris Moncrief, one of my former students and star of the Bronx Prep Musical Theater program as well as the Speech Team, comes back from his first year at Syracuse University to pay us a visit. Without waiting to be asked, he steps into a rehearsal with a group of middle school boys and within minutes the scene transforms from stilted and flat to rhythmic and hilarious.


47 days until opening night

Drama with our male leads continues to plague us.

Today a friend emails me an Onion article about Barack Obama holding nationwide auditions for “Guys and Dolls.” Even after auditioning 8 million Americans for the role, the article jokes, Obama is still searching for the perfect Nathan Detroit. On any other day I would have laughed out loud at this, but today I can only muster a gallows-humor sigh: soon I might be conducting that same search all over again. I’ve just gotten word that tomorrow I have to attend an expulsion hearing for a 10th grader I’ve known for four years and have come to love like a son—none other than the kid who plays Nathan Detroit.

Stay tuned for the second installment of this three-part series of posts leading up to opening night of Guys and Dolls at Bronx Prep.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ramping up to "Guys and Dolls" in the South Bronx!

Preparations for "Guys and Dolls" are in full swing!

It may still be rainy and nasty outside, but here at Bronx Prep theater, spring has sprung. Middle schoolers are wielding power tools, leads are learning lines, math teachers are sewing costumes, set designers are tutoring backstage, and student leaders are keeping us all in line.