Friday, March 14, 2003
New Carlisle teachers direct Guys and Dolls, Jr.
We recently interviewed new Carlisle School teachers Tony Villar and Megan Fitzharris, directors of the seventh-grade play "Guys and Dolls, Jr." On March 27, 28, 29 and 30 the seventh grade will be performing the musical, which is set in New York City during the 1940s. It is a story about a missionary named Sarah, played by Molly DeGuglielmo, who falls in love with a legendary gambler named Sky, played by Owen Callahan. Other major roles are played by Lisa Yanofsky and Sean Dwyer. In addition to directing the play, Villar teaches sixth-grade social studies and Fitzharris is a music teacher and director of the school choruses.
We wanted to know why Guys and Dolls was chosen over such plays as Oklahoma and Bugsy Malone. which were also considered. Both the directors and the parents (who got a say in the choice) agreed that the play should be appropriate for a pre-teen age level. However, Guys and Dolls in the original is not totally appropriate, so the Broadway Junior version, edited for a middle-school cast, was used. They also knew that with such a large class, it would be a problem if there were too few parts. Adds Megan Fitzharris, "It has great music; it's the kind of stuff that gets stuck in your head."
We wondered how they did the difficult job of casting. Villar says, "It was based on who fit the characters best and how they interacted with others. I think some of the casting was different and unexpected from what people predicted." Fitzharris adds, "I'm very happy with the cast, especially with the major roles. They're doing a great job at something extremely hard. They work well together and are putting their full effort into it." Villar and Fitzharris both agree that the parents are doing a great deal to help with the play, too.
We were also interested in the backgrounds of the two directors. We discovered Tony Villar did a lot of Broadway theater, as well as many commercials. Villar also said that he did "a lot of stuff in Hollywood." In our interview with Fitzharris, the new music teacher, we found that her musical background was astounding. She grew up singing in church and the school choir, and then became a voice major. At one time she had to memorize an hour-long solo concert. She also spent time as a vocal coach.
These two teachers are teaching in Carlisle for their first year, and we wanted to know why they came here. Tony Villar applied to many schools, and says that, "This school was interested in study and had a good academic program. I wanted to be a part of it." Megan Fitzharris came to Carlisle fresh out of college. She had heard that Carlisle had a great music program and needed a music teacher. Wanting a general music and choir program, she applied for the job, planning to build on the current music program.
Both Villar and Fitzharris believe that their personalities are helpful when rehearsing for the play. Villar thinks that his experience helps him relate to the kids in the play. He also says, "I'm booming. I can get my point across." Fitzharris adds a perfectionist touch to the play, not allowing the kids to do anything but their best. She knows and the kids know that anything below their best is not acceptable, and adds jokingly, "I'm a dictator."
From our interviews, we've concluded that this play would be nowhere without the talents of Tony Villar and Megan Fitzharris. We think that it's going to be best seventh-grade play this school has had for many years, and we can't wait to see it!
Tickets to the play can be purchased at Daisy's Market. For more information, visit the play website by following the links from www.carlisle.mec.edu.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito