Upper Division News - Volume 5, Issue 6

I can't get "Guys and Dolls" out of my head.

I saw it twice, on Friday and Saturday nights, as if I was a proud parent with a child in the show - which, in a way, I suppose I am. The production said a lot about us. Most noticable, of course, was the excellence of the show itself, as well of this version of it. A funny and charming musical, "Guys and Dolls" has an amazing number of wonderful songs; these charactertistics account for its popularity, especially here (more on this in a moment). The play evoked enormous energy and enthusiasm, an outpouring of exuberence and creativity. And as a school, we're characterized by these qualities: our students participate. They do their best. In this way, "Guys and Dolls" was a characteristic Horace Mann event.

There was a huge amount of talent onstage too, great singing and dancing. The actors and actresses in the lead roles were outstanding; they inhabited their parts. But - let's face it - not every kid on stage was brilliant at drama. That's Ok too, and it's part of what made this production so memorable: the way they all, every one of them, went for it, the way they sold out to the moment, the way they tried, they way they were bold and unafraid, the way they weren't worried about failing. This attitude was a testimony to their courage and daring, to their feelings of being secure and in a safe place, and also to the patience, faith, and love of their director and the many other adults who were instrumental in making the show such a success.

Then there was the audience. The theater was filled to overflowing both evenings I was there, filled with parents and gradparents, faculty and students, a community gathered to watch and take pleasure in the accomplishments of their children, grandchildren, classmates, friends, and students. I insisted that my wife join me; she had a great time, and every time I looked over, she was smiling. Some of the deans - they all came - were moved to tears by the performances of students they know so well. Members of the 1983 cast of "Guys and Dolls" were in the audience too. What does it say about our theater program and our School that so many former student-actors came to the play? "Guys and Dolls" was also put on in 1998. A classic is a story that demands to be re-told, that stimulates the imagination and speaks to our need for narrative and meaning. Thus with Horace Mann and this play. When's the next production?

I find myself walking the halls and singing "Last night I got on the boat to heaven, and by some chance I had brought my dice along..." Then I think, OK, David, but maybe you'd better keep your day job.

David Schiller, Ph.D.
Head of Upper Division
(718) 432-3912

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