Times photos by Betsy ReasonNoblesville East Middle School drama students Sarah Brown (Ava Rennard, from left), Sky Masterson (Maddux Morrison), Miss Adelaide (Emma Howie) and Nathan Detroit (Ian McGrayel) rehearse a scene from NEMS's "Guys & Dolls Jr." production at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville. The musical will be on stage Nov. 10-12. Tickets go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. Monday.
Times photos by Betsy Reason

Noblesville East Middle School drama students Sarah Brown (Ava Rennard, from left), Sky Masterson (Maddux Morrison), Miss Adelaide (Emma Howie) and Nathan Detroit (Ian McGrayel) rehearse a scene from NEMS's "Guys & Dolls Jr." production at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville. The musical will be on stage Nov. 10-12. Tickets go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. Monday.
I remember at the beginning of the school year when we found out that Noblesville East Middle School would stage "Guys & Dolls Jr." for its annual fall musical.

More than 80 students turned out for the auditions, showing off their vocal abilities and reading lines from the script.

For the past nine weeks, the 39-member cast has been rehearsing after school, first at NEMS and now at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville, where the musical will be staged just less than two weeks away, on Veterans Day weekend. Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday.

My daughter, who is among four sixth-graders in the show, sings and recites her lines every where she goes. I can only imagine the many NEMS cast households filled with singing, dancing and line memorizing.

There's an additional 23 crew members and a student director, who also may likely have the show's songs stuck in their heads.

"Guys & Dolls Jr." is set in New York City, following gambler Nathan Detroit (Ian McGrayel), as he tries to find cash to set up the biggest crap game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Miss Adelaide (Emma Howie), laments that they've been engaged for 14 years. So Nathan turns to fellow gambler Sky Masterson (Maddux Morrison) for some dough, but Masterson ends up chasing missionary, Sarah Brown (Ava Rennard).

"It's a show that I have always wanted to do, and this just felt like the right year," NEMS drama club director Jordan Rattenbury said. "I fell in love with the movie musical when I was in high school, and I'm having a blast bringing it to life on the Ivy Tech stage (which is the former Noblesville High School)."

Being NEMS's choir director, she's accustomed to corralling a large number of youth. But it's sometimes a challenge to find a balance between new thespians who are catching up on "Theatre 101" and the veteran students who have performed many times on stage.

And it's also a challenge to have enough females, who in this musical play several male roles.

"Middle-schoolers by nature can also be a bit of a challenge at times. Sometimes, they struggle to stay focused on the scene, forget to put away props, don't hang up their costumes or continually talk backstage," Rattenbury said. But she knows that adults can have the same flaws.

"I truly do love working with this age group, and we have a lot of fun," she said.

Interestingly, three NEMS science teachers make up the remaining three staff members involved in the show. Science teacher Claire Hanrahan leads a costume crew responsible for costuming the whole cast, plus creating some props, designing a cast T-shirt and helping with hair and makeup, the latter under the direction of seventh-grade science teacher, makeup director Jennifer Dunham. Seventh-grade science teacher Rick Towle leads the stage crew, who design, construct and paint set pieces. Plus, parents volunteer with hair and makeup, selling tickets and as backstage chaperones, as well as planning a cast party, preparing the show program and building the set. Student director Lauryn Tooley, an NHS senior, has also been helping put together the show.

Rattenbury said, "From all the cast and crew of 'Guy & Dolls Jr.,' we hope you come on out to the show."

"Guys & Dolls" will be on stage at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 at Ivy Tech Community College Noblesville Campus, 300 N. 17th St. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students, and free to Noblesville Schools employees. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday and will be sold during school lunches Nov. 6-10, and at the door. To order online, visit https://nems-drama-club.ticketleap.com/guysanddollsjr/

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.