Throughout the school year, Prince William Extra occasionally publishes reviews of high school shows that student critics have written under the guidance of faculty mentors as part of the Critics and Awards Program, also known as Cappies. Now in its seventh season, the program recognizes the achievements of young performers, writers, directors and stage crews. For more information, visit www.cappies.com.

'Guys and Dolls'

Gamblers in a mission house? Where would one find such a thing? In the C.D Hylton High School Choral Department's production of Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls."

This classic story follows the escapades of Nathan Detroit (Kurt Hoffman) and his crapshooters; Miss Adelaide (Lydia Webb) and her hot-box dancers; Sgt. Sarah Brown (Shannon Kingett) and her fellow missionaries; and Sky Masterson (Joe Scott) and his gambling. Nathan, in an effort to save his "oldest established, permanent floating" crap game, makes a bet with Sky that he will not be able to take the religious Sarah to Havana. Sky unexpectedly falls in love with the pious girl.

The crapshooters were a solid ensemble, their voices intermingling perfectly with wonderful harmonies in their featured songs, especially in "The Oldest Established," which featured comic sidekicks Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Jim Smith) and Benny Southstreet (Reuben Schwartz).

New York accents are important to this show, and a majority of the cast held theirs consistently -- even though, at times, it made certain songs difficult to understand.

Some of the show's funniest moments were some of the smallest. A phone call between Nathan and Joey Biltmore (Jim Smith) was a comic gem, with Smith's wonderful character voice. Another fun moment was a scene between Adelaide and Sarah in which they amusingly pictured their men performing domestic activities.

The title number, "Guys and Dolls," sung by Jim Smith and Tim Wepplo, was a vocal highlight. In "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," Smith stole the stage, with vocals, comedic timing and physical humor.

Hylton rolled a winner with "Guys and Dolls."

Amy Rosegrant

JEB Stuart High School

If "Luck Be a Lady Tonight," then luck was surely a lady for Hylton High School's cast and crew last weekend. Complete with dice, unlikely love, no-good crapshooters and the missionaries determined to save their souls, Hylton's performance of "Guys and Dolls" delighted the audience.

The show opens as the "reliable Nathan Detroit" attempts to find a venue for his floating crap game. When Sky Masterson arrives, Detroit takes the opportunity to wager Sky for the $1,000 he needs to use the Biltmore Garage for the game. Confusion and excitement abound when Detroit bets Sky that Sky can't get Sgt. Sarah, his prim missionary sweetheart, to fly with him to Havana for a date.

The cast successfully brought Frank Loesser's famous songs to life with well-staged songs and talented voices. Shannon Kingett stood out as Sarah Brown, showing off a beautiful soprano voice on songs such as "I'll Know."

Kurt Hoffman as Nathan Detroit and Lydia Webb as Miss Adelaide were quite believable as a couple -- at the same time annoyed and infatuated with each other. Webb's frustrated antics as Adelaide added comedy to several scenes. Joe Scott played Sky with a winning combination of reluctance and charm, contrasting well with Kingett's naivete and determination as Sarah.

The supporting cast was solid. Jim Smith, Reuben Schwartz and Tim Wepplo (as Nicely, Benny and Rusty) contributed humor and excellent vocals, especially in their well-sung, well-timed opening number, "Fugue for Tinhorns," and the title song, "Guys and Dolls." A highlight of the show was "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," led by Smith, in which the entire cast came together with simple but well-executed choreography and strong back-up vocals.

Although the acting did not always match the singing in quality, the cast's energy built throughout the show.

The technical aspects were solid. Performers were consistently heard. The set changes were sometimes a little long, and there seemed to be a few problems with lighting cues and minor microphone glitches, but nothing detracted from the overall production.

Full of difficult duets and full-cast numbers, "Guys and Dolls" is a challenging show. Hylton's cast and crew turned in a solid production. To quote from one of the songs, if this show were a bell, it would be ringing.

Jennifer MacLure

Stonewall Jackson High School