Playing it straight is no problem for Chae Young Kang, an Irvington senior who said her Korean grandmother runs a tight ship at home.
“I feel really connected to Sarah, living in a restrictive environment,” she said.
Learning to play drunk? That, Kang said, took time.
“I’ve never really gotten drunk,” she said. “But now ‘If I Were a Bell’ is my favorite number.”
As Sarah Brown in Irvington’s production of “Guys and Dolls” this week, Kang is swept away to Havana by Sky Masterson (Patrick Daly) and treated to a “local flavoring” called Bacardi.
“Sarah is really kind of boring,” she said. “But in ‘If I Were a Bell,’ she lets everything go and reveals her character. That’s when I become me on stage.”
Before coming to the U.S. three years ago, Kang spent two years in China.
She has just learned she’s been accepted to NYU’s Tisch School to study musical theater next year, news she took rather well, but which reduced her family to tears.
“It was quite an experience,” she said. “My grandmother started to cry, my mom started to cry and I first saw my father crying. Amazing.”
She played Sister Sophia in “The Sound of Music” last year and Hodel in “Fiddler on the Roof” two years ago.
“Music has been my life,” she said. “My mom is a musical producer in Korea and my father was once the CEO of a broadcast company. I grew up in an environment where I was exposed to musical theater and music.”
When it is suggested that she’s a showbiz kid, she breaks into a big grin.
“Kind of,” she said. “You can call me that. I love that.”
Irvington senior Hope Fourie — a newly minted 18-year-old — plays Miss Adelaide, the long-suffering girlfriend of Nathan Detroit, played by junior Tom Gambardella. This production marks a return to the role for Fourie, who played Adelaide in a junior version of the musical at Irvington Middle School five years ago.
“We did an abbreviated version of ‘Adelaide’s Lament’,” the song in which Adelaide bemoans her too-long engagement to Nathan. “Now, it’s hard to sing the longer version.”
There are other differences.
One is the level of undress to which Adelaide advances in the song “Take Back Your Mink.” (She didn’t get far in the junior version; she goes much further here.)
Another is her maturity level.
“When I played her in seventh grade, Nathan was an eighth-grader and I was really nervous and didn’t want to touch him,” she said with a giggle. “Now, it’s much easier to interact with my fellow characters as a mature senior.”
Audiences root for poor Adelaide.
“The accent is really fun to do, and she’s funny and big, but she does get to show her depth, too, like in the song ‘Sue Me,’ when all those years of waiting take their toll.”
Gambardella, 16, a junior, has been on the Washington Senators in “Damn Yankees” and was Lazer Wolf the Butcher in last year’s “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“Lazer was an angry guy and Nathan is a bit neurotic,” Gambardella said. “I think Sinatra was too cool to play Nathan.”
“The key to Nathan for me is that he should be in his own head a lot, talking to himself.”
In fact, cast members might see him sitting off stage talking to himself, saying “Why don’t I bet him? Why don’t I bet him a thousand dollars?”
“I probably look crazy doing it,” Gambardella said. “But it helps get me into character.”
Patrick Daly, 17, a junior, plays Sky Masterson, Sarah’s love interest.
“I love that he knows what he wants and what he has to do, but like anyone, he experiences conflict. He goes through new things, like the song says: ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before.’ It’s a major lifestyle change for him. His lifestyle requires him not to be in love, to stay sharp.”
Ethan Weinstein, 16, a junior, plays Nicely Nicely Johnson, with the great songs “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “Fugue for Tinhorns.” He stepped up from the crew to the pit to Motel the Tailor in last year’s “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“Nicely is one of the more comic roles, kinda crazy, so I just went with it,” he said.
“Guys and Dolls,” at 7:30 p.m., March 6, 7, 13, 14; 2 p.m., March 8. $15, $10 students and seniors. 914-591-6645.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Irvington. Enjoy!