Both guys and dolls around Marana are preparing for an upcoming community-oriented performance. The Marana Community Music Theater is a volunteer group that organizes multiple theater events in Marana throughout the year, and is putting the final touches on this year’s summer production: Guys and Dolls.
Started in Fall 2017 by two Marana High School teachers, MCMT hosts theater, musical and choral performances by the community and for the community of Marana.
“We have a lot of students who graduate, but they don’t have anywhere in Marana to continue performing,” said MCMT co-founder Sarah Ross, a Marana High choir teacher. “We realized we needed to do something to give these people an opportunity to do performing arts.”
Since forming, MCMT’s attendance has gradually increased. Through its community choir shows in the fall and spring, and musical productions in the summer, MCMT’s attendance went from about 15 to now roughly 70. These numbers include actors and actresses as well as singers, musicians, lighting crews and more.
For the latest production, Ross said MCMT is performing Guys and Dolls partially to emphasize that they aren’t just performing shows for children, like with their previous Wizard of Oz show, but for all ages.
MCMT does not audition for most roles, so anyone can join. According to Ross, this encourages everyone to come, and they’ll even see entire families participate in a production.
“We’re all community members who have probably had music in our lives,” said Jill Smith, MCMT volunteer. “Whether it’s music lessons in school or learning instruments, a love of music might be the only thing we all have in common. We’re an extremely varied group. It’s a very open environment.”
According to Ross, members of MCMT range from 13 into their 70s, and include a wide variety of professional talents. In fact, one of the reasons Ross and fellow Marana teacher Heidi Barker wanted to form MCMT was to allow performing arts to be an “and not an or” in the community, in that volunteers wouldn’t have to sacrifice other pursuits while performing in a group musical or choir.
Smith said, compared to other theater performances, MCMT moves a bit faster, simply because there is less rehearsal time. However, she said the members of the theater group do create a strong creative unit by the end.
MCMT recently wrapped up its community choir spring session, which featured the show “Now & Then,” comprising various jazz standards from the ’20s into the ’60s. For their future sessions, they will be performing “Shakespeare in the Park.”
According to Ross, while MCMT performs musicals, the title is intentionally “Marana Community Music Theater,” not “Musical Theater” to show they include both live music and acting. Many volunteers have performed live music for their productions, though they must provide their own instruments.
“We’re doing it on a very, very slim budget,” Smith said. “But we always get it done. Without the support of the Town of Marana, none of this would be possible.”
MCMT is supported by the Marana’s park and recreation department, which enables the theater crew to perform and practice in multiple schools throughout town. Because of this kind of support, this production will be fully staged.
Ross said MCMT is always looking for more volunteers, and even if they aren’t interested in performing on stage, there are always roles available for backstage crews.
“It’s for everybody’s enjoyment,” Smith said. “We simply like performing for the community we live in.”
Marana Community Music Theater will perform “Guys and Dolls: A Musical Fable of Broadway” on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 at Marana High School’s auditorium. 12000 W. Emigh ROad. 7 p.m. $10.