‘Guys and Dolls’ continues St. Francis traditionWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
St. Francis de Sales High School is reprising the first musical the school ever did with its upcoming performances of “Guys and Dolls.”
The high school first put on the classic in 1970 and once more in 1985, said director Michael Kastner, who has been with the school for 14 years. Some former students from those years may return to view the show.
“[‘Guys and Dolls’ is] an old-time classic. It’s one of those shows that was just written so well and it’s a show that needs to be on the kids’ resumes,” said Kastner, who is also the men’s chorale director at St. Francis.
“Guys and Dolls” is the story of gamblers Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit and their complicated love/professional lives.
Senior Doug Jensen plays Masterson, the romantic lead. Although he wasn’t initially thrilled with the selection of the play, he said Masterson is now his favorite part.
“I wasn’t too psyched about it, but then once I actually started, our cast was awesome. This is my favorite I’ve ever been in, just the way everyone gets along,” said Jensen, who will attend the University of Central Florida in the fall.
Nate Steingass, also a senior, plays Detroit, whose gal pal desperately wants him to marry her. He has also grown to love the musical although he wasn’t familiar with it at first.
“While being excited, I was still kind of in the dark about it. But as it goes on, I’ve started to love it. I’m kind of the classic-show kinda guy,” said Steingass, who plans to attend Ohio State University to study pre-med.
St. Francis stages a musical every spring and gets girls from Notre Dame Academy and St. Ursula Academy to participate. The show includes about 60 cast members and 25 students on the stage crew.
Some of the students go on to do theater after college, whether it is professionally or for fun.
“We’ve had a lot of students who have been a part of our musicals who have gone on [to perform]. We have some kids in New York City trying to live the dream. I keep telling them when they win the Tony Award, they need to mention my name,” Kastner said.
Jensen may be one of the students who goes on to perform. He has had 13 roles over his high school career, including the abusive boyfriend in “Footloose” and a spy in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
“I’ve gone from sailor to abusive boyfriend to foreign spy to romantic lead. It’s been very rounded what I’ve done here in four years,” said Jensen, who is considering a theater minor.
Kastner also did musical theater in high school. “You kind of get it in your blood,” he said. The director attends a musical theater workshop every summer in New York City and also teaches music at St. Francis and Gesu Elementary School.
The music lover tries to best himself and his students every year. “We think of it as a little challenge. Like, let’s make this one better than last year; so it keeps me going, it keeps me fresh, it keeps me excited about what I’m doing. And I’m sure closing night, all the underclassmen will be like, ‘What are you gonna do next year for us?’” Kastner said.
“Guys and Dolls” is at 7:30 p.m. May 4-5 and May 11-12 at the Franciscan Theatre at Lourdes University. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for students. For more information and tickets, call (419) 531-1618.