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'Guys and Dolls' a sure bet at Cleveland High

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Cleveland High Schools drama instructor, Tom Beckett, checks to see that the cast of Guys and Dolls is ready to step up their rehearsal schedule if needed. In mid-February, Cleveland High School’s drama instructor, Tom Beckett, was having a serious talk with the student actors preparing to mount a production of the musical “Guys and Dolls” in March. It was about what they’d do to put on the show if there were a threatened strike of Portland Public Schools teachers.

The cast was busy scouting out alternative sites, and squeezing in additional rehearsals. “Look at the talent assembled here,” Beckett exclaimed. “Many of you are veterans of many productions here at CHS. Remember, this is your show. You can make this happen!”

But, with a teachers walkout seemingly averted, rehearsals returned to their original schedules for this 1950 musical comedy, which is based on two short stories by Damon Runyon.

A cast of 80 student actors – accompanied by a 20-piece live pit orchestra – will mix colorful old-time gamblers with the saintly “Save a Soul” mission clerics, as they sing and dance their way from finding a place to hold “The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York” to visiting a hot Havana nightclub and back.

“We have a process by which our students choose the show they do,” said Beckett, the director of the show. “This is something that they wanted to do this year. Everybody’s working hard on this production – these are dedicated student actors.”

The curtain rises on “Guys and Dolls” at the Cleveland High School Theater on March 7 and 8, and again on the weekend of March 14 and 15 – all at 7:00 pm. Or, catch a 2 pm matinee show on March 8 or March 15. Ticket: $8 for students and seniors, $10 general, and $15 reserved. They’re available at the door, or through the CHS Theater website: clevelandhstheater.weebly.com/.