Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In the Wings: Guys and Dolls. Meet Mary Jane Gregan.

Mary Jane Gregan is music director for Guys and Dolls, the first of two summer productions from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette in 2012. The music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser; the book is by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Mary Jane is choral director at McCutcheon High School, composes music, and runs the Queen Bee Studio where she teaches voice.

Question: What does a music director do?
Mary Jane Gregan: For Civic productions, the music director works with the vocal score, teaches the music and then gets singers ready for performance. The music director also works with the pit musicians.

Q: Why did you want to work on Guys and Dolls?
M.J.G.: This is one of my all-time favorite shows. I've directed it, I've done a lot of music with my high school choirs, and I also saw the Junior version by Civic Theatre a few summers ago. I've always supported Civic by being an audience member, and I'm very happy to be part of this production.

Q: What is great about Frank Loesser's music in this show?
M.J.G.: This music is timeless. A lot of contemporary musicals coming out in the last decade or so will soon be forgotten. The music of Guys and Dolls is brilliantly written. I just rehearsed "More I Cannot Wish You," sung by the character Arvide Abernathy to Sarah Brown. What person can't relate to that song? What adult can't relate to that song? What better wish from adults to children, that they seek out and find a person they can love and who will love them?

Q: What do you want the performers to take away from this experience?
M.J.G.: Both Laura Mecsey and I want the performers to understand that this is a disciplined and demanding field. I want them to be able to say, "I can" and "We can." Is it unrealistic to ask high school students to put a production together in three weeks? Yes it is, but oh well we're going to do it. We can do it. But this not a production camp; this is a musical theatre camp where we're teaching them to improve their skills in acting and vocal music. They get lessons in the things to make them a better actor and singer.

Q: What will an audience enjoy about a performance of Guys and Dolls?
M.J.G.: I want them to not even recognize what their favorite thing was because they had so many favorite moments in the show.

Q: In real life, are you more of a Save-a-Soul Sister or a gangster's doll?
M.J.G.: I'm probably a Save-a-Soul Sister, but I think everyone has that other side in them.

Guys and Dolls will run July 20 and 21 at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater Park, 4449 State Road 43 North, West Lafayette. The shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

For information about the show or to order tickets, call Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit its website.

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