Players demonstrate unity, supportive program through obstacles

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“Guys and Dolls” premiered Nov. 11 and has a total of seven shows.

Theater often highlights star studded individual talents, and, of course, Players has a long history of just that. But this perception was challenged the first weekend of the Player’s annual fall production. This year’s production of “Guys and Dolls” became a shining example of something deeper- a program steeped in a culture of supporting one another to reach the best outcome for the group, not individual stars. 

Mccrea celebrated with the cast after the performance and received an immense amount of positive feedback.

“Guys and Dolls” debuted Nov. 11, with a cast of gifted student actors and actresses. But, they were thrown a curve ball when one of the lead cast members – Henry Carson ’24 who was starring as Nathan Detriots – fell ill and alerted the production team that he could no longer perform for the first few shows. Understudy Will Mccrea ’26 stepped in for Carson and the show went on. 

Staples Players prepares and seems to actually thrive on these challenging moments, using them as opportunities to support one another such that the show goes on, no matter what.

Mccrea entered the Players program just a few months ago and was double cast as Joey Biltmore- one or two scenes, as well as understudy for Nathan Detriots- a character with over a hundred lines and three songs. The latter lead role is one he never expected to play. This said, of course Mccrea prepared, but had no pressure of having to deliver- that is, until it was actually time to perform. He was in complete shock after being told at about 2:30 p.m., five hours before the curtains lifted on opening night, he was fulfilling his role as an understudy, going on for Detriots. 

“If you can imagine the amount of adrenaline you get on a rollercoaster ride, then multiply it by 10,” Mccrea said. “The entirety of being an understudy I was kinda teasing the idea like ‘oh what if Henry gets sick, what if I have to go on’ and then it actually came true. It was a surreal experience. I can’t describe the feeling.”

“I think that he killed it,” Tess Feldman ’24, an Assistant Stage Manager, said. “He’s adorable, we’re so proud of him and also [of] Graham, an understudy who filled in for Charlie, another big role. The way both of them stepped into those roles was just so inspiring and like awesome, literally awesome.” ”

— Tess Feldman ’24

 
As it turns out, the Staples Players’ resolve to deliver was tested on opening night with not one, but two understudies having to step into the limelight. Graham Griffin ’26 went on for Charlie Watson ’23 who became sick just in time for one of the first performances. 

“I think that he killed it,” Tess Feldman ’24, an Assistant Stage Manager, said. “He’s adorable, we’re so proud of him and also [of] Graham, an understudy who filled in for Charlie, another big role. The way both of them stepped into those roles was just so inspiring and like awesome, literally awesome.”

The Players’ depth was surely tested this past weekend. Mccrea credited the team’s orientation and dynamics that underscored the program’s culture to its success. 

“If you had twenty actors and nineteen of them were just not very good actors and one  of them was great, people in the audience would just be hoping ‘ah man I hope this next scene that one great actor comes on’,” Mccrea said. “That’s not a good show. You don’t want the audience to be hoping to see one actor. You want them to be entertained by everything going on.” 

Mccrea was faced with intense pressure, adrenaline and fear prior to the performance, yet Players proved again how it is an incredibly supportive community. Mccrea posted in the Players facebook group chat Friday and received an overwhelming number of responses. 

“People replied and were like ‘you got this Will’, ‘we believe in you’, ‘we love you’,” Mcrea said. “I can’t explain how determined it made me. I knew I got all these people behind my back.” 

Jost Pitaro ’24, cast as a Hotbox Girl, is friends and a big backer to both Mcrea and Carson and recognizes the phenomenal talent that both individuals have. 

“I’m so excited to have Henry back because I love him in this role and he’s worked so hard,” Pitaro said. “I know it will be a super smooth transition for him because he’s so incredibly prepared. Will has done an awesome job of filling in and we are so lucky to have two fantastic actors playing Nathan.”