PEMCo performs ‘Guys and Dolls’
Claire King | Thursday, March 28, 2019
If you ask senior Clare Strickland, PEMCo’s executive producer, how she balances majoring in Neuroscience with overseeing the spring show “Guys and Dolls”, she would respond:
“That’s a funny joke! We simply don’t sleep.”
If you ask sophomore Alison Croucher, the director of the upcoming spring show, “Guys and Dolls,” how she manages to stay motivated between her Film, Television, and Theater course load and 24 hours per week of PEMCo rehearsals, she would respond:
“Pure adrenaline and exhaustion at this point is what keeps me going. I don’t even have time to get a coffee.”
Being a full-time student and also part of PEMCo, an entirely student-run and self-sustaining musical theatre group, is no small feat.
“Balancing is hard. There’s no way you can have 24 hours of practice a week, have the amazing, glorious social life you want, and do well in academics and extracurriculars,” sophomore Roni Mansour, the music director of the spring show, said.
Mansour, majoring in Music and English with a minor in Musical Theater, has had to learn to wear many different hats, along with the rest of the PEMCo team of around 50 members, including four producers, 21 cast members, 16 pit members and countless other people who have contributed to the show. Directors, producers and cast members alike, might find themselves running from a physics lab or an art critique to rehearsal. With that in mind, it can be a challenge to put together a show with so many different schedules and the routine distractions and stressors of everyday college life.
“You leave everything at the door when you walk in and give everything you have to the production and rehearsal,” Croucher said. “It’s a journey, and it’s a process. As a director, I have to constantly be reading the room.”
The size of the cast and crew could potentially cause conflict, but Mansour said the group’s mutual respect ensures that they work productively.
“Everything comes down to respect. The cast has respect for us, we have respect for them. You have to check your egos at the door,” Mansour said.
While rehearsals and the production process can be taxing, there is a reason that students come back year after year to be part of PEMCo productions — shows are rewarding and fun.
“We have a really good balance between having fun and being professional,” Strickland said. “While at times, [the show] can be another source of stress, being at rehearsal is stress relief for me. It’s a really safe place where we can kind of let go and escape any troubles that we are going through.”
Croucher echoed Strickland’s sentiments as she credited a love of theater as her motivation.
While “Guys and Dolls” has been done time and time again, PEMCo is trying to put their own twist on the production.
“This is a classic golden-age show, meaning it’s old. It’s been redone and re-vibed countless times. How are we going to make it our own? How is our version going to be different than what you saw on Broadway five years ago?” Croucher said when asked about how she has adapted the show at the University.
Mansour said the most exciting part of the show has been “messing around with the music and making it our own.”
“It’s a unique show with our own taste of creativity,” she said.
Performances of “Guys and Dolls” will be take place Thursday through Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Washington Hall. Tickets are now on sale at the LaFortune Box Office. Student tickets are $7 and non-student tickets are $10.