‘Guys and Dolls’ to rock in Hopkins

| Jennifer Janikula | March 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

On the March 15 Arts & Culture page, the cutline should have said: Left, Mary Blackman (sixth-grader) watches as “Guys and Dolls” director Peg Pavek adjusts the costume on Anders Gulbrandson (fifth-grader). (Jennifer Janikula / For The Catholic Spirit)

Most students spend their recess time swinging, climbing or playing tag. At St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Hopkins, students in third through sixth grade morph into urban missionaries and gamblers during their playground time.

No need for concern. They are acting — and dancing and singing, too — as they rehearse for this year’s spring musical, a junior version of the Broadway classic, “Guys and Dolls.”

The musical, performed at Stages Theater in Hopkins, showcases the dramatic and vocal talents of the young cast, the creativity of parent costume designers and graphic artists, and the dedication of Peg Pavek, teacher and director.

Pavek, director of the annual production for more than 15 years, expects great performances from the young actors. Students sign a contract with Pavek committing to several early morning and recess rehearsals.

The students sign and fulfill their contract with enthusiasm. For many of them, the play is the best part of their school year. They appreciate the opportunity to perform on stage and enjoy sharing the experience with their friends and family.

“We love the musical,” said Maddie Schafer who plays Adelaide. “It is an awesome opportunity to grow in confidence.”

Abundant benefits

But the students gain more than just confidence. They learn public speaking skills like vocal projection and comic timing.

“The children get a taste of theater,” said set builder Liz Vanderlinde. “Their smiles and excitement on stage are amazing. Participating in the production will create memories for a lifetime.”

Steve Kraemer, father of a sixth-grade student, enjoys the quality of the annual productions.

“The productions are so professional. The kids sing, dance and act with so much poise. They just have a blast.”

Pavek creates a quality production with the support of a dedicated and talented team. Parents, parishioners and alumni assist with costumes, sets, lights, make-up, sound and supervision.

Carolyn Herrmann, mother of Sophie (Sarah Brown), has been sewing costumes for the school musical for 14 years. A pharmacist by day, sewing is her creative outlet.

From January through March, Herrmann dedicates most of her free time to the costumes. She manages a brigade of 25 assistants that help pin, tuck, hem, glue and paint the 75 costumes.

“It is very satisfying to see how the costumes look on the kids and how they look onstage. The kids are so excited and appreciative,” Herrmann said.

Ed Bennett, a graphic designer, and Vanderlinde, a carpenter, team up to design, build and paint the sets. Combined, Bennett and Vanderlinde spend more than 150 hours on each production.

“I do it because it is a great experience for all of the kids in the play,” Bennett said. “I enjoy the process — thinking about it, getting it built, seeing it on stage.  It’s the best fit for my skills, the best way I can help the school.”

Even the priests get into the production. Former pastor, Father Ralph Goman, and current pastor, Father Jim Liekhus, usually make a cameo appearances.

“Pavek usually writes a script for us, but we tend to make up our lines as we go, often working in a plug for a Lenten fish fry or for Sunday Mass,” Father Liekhus said.

‘Guys and Dolls’

When: 2 & 7 p.m. Saturday, March 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25

Where: Stages Theater, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins

Tickets: Adults $15.50; Seniors $12.50; Children $10.50; Alumni $10.50.

Call (952) 979-1111

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Category: Arts and Culture