At St Luke's Parish Hall on rehearsal night there's zillions of people milling around sorting mics, lights, props and sets in preparation for another SLADS spectacular.
SLADS – or St Luke's Arts and Drama Society – is a proper community institution in Salford, with a reputation for producing top quality stage productions during its 52 year history. The latest is Guys and Dolls, made famous on film via Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, and the subject of stacks of revivals on Broadway and elsewhere, as the musical that mixes romance and gambling continues to thrill audiences.
"We've wanted to do this show for years but have never quite had enough men" laughs director Sonia Whittle "We've got enough now, plus we've got a lot of young members and we wanted to utilise them, so that's why we've chosen to do this.
"It's a typical love story" she explains, and sums Guys and Dolls up in a couple of breathless sentences…
"Two couples, Sarah and Sky, and Adelaide and Nathan…Sarah runs the Save-A-Soul Mission and Sky is the gambler…She doesn't like him but they fall in love and live happily ever after…typical musical."
While the plot is `typical' it's the journey that matters. For Guys and Dolls it's from New York to Havana and back. And for SLADS it's a journey that allows the community to get up on stage and show top Salford amateur talent in top productions.
Guys and Dolls, Salford style, has a cast of 35, with the youngest just six years old and the oldest 75.
"It's good for our young people to work with the older cast and vice versa" says Sonia, who first joined SLADS at the age of seven "Reality shows like the X Factor have made it acceptable and cool to be singing and dancing on the stage so we tend to keep our teenagers now."
Everyone says that SLADs is like a big family, with everyone mucking in backstage and on stage to bring the finest shows possible to Weaste. There's also loads of families involved…
"Both my sisters are members and there's people's husbands, kids and relatives involved" says Georgina Dalli "I'm in the chorus and there's a lot of singing and dancing which I love…and we're doing all the numbers like Luck Be A Lady and Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat – I love doing it."
Sonia's daughter, Alex, is also in the musical, playing Adelaide, the second leading lady…
"She's a bit of a ditzy blonde who talks in a squeaky voice, a brilliant character" she says "It's probably the funnest part I've ever had, and I've been doing this a long time. People should come and see it because it's a good show, we've worked really hard on it, and I think it's amateur at its best."
At the rehearsal the mics are being checked, the stage lights are shining and everyone's checking their scripts. There's so many people in the hall it looks like chaos but SLADS have been doing these productions for years. On the night it's going to be slick – all the way from New York to Havana and back, via Weaste.
"If you were to go into Manchester or to the Quays you're talking £40 or £50 a ticket and if you've got mum, dad and two kids it's a fortune" Sonia explains "Whereas you can come here and see local theatre local talent at its finest for a third of the price…"
Salford finest Guys and Dolls are not to be missed…
Guy and Dolls
St Luke's Arts and Drama Society
Monday 2nd June - Saturday 7th June 7:30pm
St Luke's Parish Hall, Derby Road
For tickets call 0161 281 7423 or 07748434729
For further information on this production or to join SLADS see
www.slads.co.uk or click here
Leading cast photo by Steven Speed