ECS Graduate Director
Lauren Scharf Directs Her Second Play in Jamestown
By Chad Neal
Entertainment is one of the largest businesses in the world. An Ellicottville native knew she loved the show business and has strived to make it part of her career and has made steps through live stage entertainment to ensure her role in it. Lauren Scharf who has been in many stage shows since high school is directing her second play in Jamestown next week. A production of Guys and Dolls will be held at the Merton P. Corwin Auditorium at the Jamestown High School at 350 East 2nd Street. The show opens Thursday, March 8th at 7pm, followed by three more shows on Friday, March 9th at 7pm and Saturday at 2pm and 7pm. All tickets are $8 at the door and there will be basket raffles at intermission as well.
Guys and Dolls is a classic musical production that has been performed by many a troupe and live stage groups and also in the movies and television and has been parodied by satire as well. In a short description sent by Scharf to The Villager it explains the premise of the show; “Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical New York City, Guys and Dolls is an oddball romantic comedy. Gambler, Nathan Detroit, tries to find the cash to setup the biggest craps game in town, while authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for fourteen years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, for the dough, and Sky ends up with a straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown, as a result. Guys and Dolls takes us from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually everyone ends up right where they belong.”
The Villager caught up with Lauren Scharf for an interview:
The Villager (V): A little info on you; grew up in EVL? Obviously. But a history on you? When did you graduate?
Lauren Scharf (LS): I grew up in Ellicottville and graduated from ECS in 2008. I then attended The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam where I majored in Music Education. I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Music Education in 2013. In 2014 I was hired by the Jamestown Public School District as a middle school (5th-8th grade) general music and chorus teacher at Persell Middle School.
V: Were you in drama at ECS? College? Your most memorable plays you were in?
LS: Yes, my first show at ECS was in 2002 as a 6th grader. The show was called “A High School Drama” and it was written by the cast of the show. This was one of the few shows I was able to share the stage with my oldest brother, Colin Scharf. I was also in “Guys and Dolls” my sophomore year and played the role of Miss Adelaide. My senior year I was Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”. During high school I was active in community theater in Olean and Salamanca and was a part of Theater Workshop in Olean. I was in a few productions in college, including “On the Town” and “A Chorus Line”.
I would have to say the most memorable show I was in during high school had to be “Guys and Dolls”. It was my first lead and I just loved the energy and character of Miss Adelaide. I still have an attachment to her character, she’s just so fun! My current students think that it’s really cool that I have played the role before.
V: This is your directorial debut?
LS: No, I directed my first show last year at JHS. We produced “Seussical the Musical”, and yes, that is a musical about Dr. Seuss characters. Prior to being the director of the JHS musical I was the vocal director for two years. This is my fourth year working with the JHS musical. I have also directed shows at Persell Middle School. In fact, immediately after this show closes I will be holding auditions for Shrek Jr. at Persell Middle School.
V: Your biggest roles?
LS: I was recently in a production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre in Jamestown and played the role of Audrey. I was also in a production of “The Last Five Years” with the Cattaraugus County Living Arts Association and played the role of Cathy. This was probably my favorite show and also the most challenging. There were only two characters in the entire show and it is extremely vocally demanding. But the music and the story are incredibly beautiful – I highly recommend it.
V: When did you know you wanted to direct?
LS: I think I realized my passion for directing when I was student teaching in the Potsdam area. I had the opportunity to be the assistant vocal director and work with the other directors and production staff on the musical. It was probably the highlight of my student teaching experience. I was able to connect with my students and share my passion of musical theatre with them.
V: What is your style?
LS: I’m still trying to find my style. I am trying a lot of new things and am hoping to bring the level of the JHS musical to a new height.
V: Who inspired you and what’s your motivation?
LS: I find inspiration by seeing any show, whether it’s a professional show or friends in a community production. I get the itch to perform or I take away concepts or ideas that I hope to transfer into a production of my own. This year I’m using digital projections in place of traditional backdrops. This is a new technique in theater that is becoming more and more common, and I thought, why not give it a try!
V: Tell me about Guys and Dolls, is it your first time with the script?
LS: No, as I said earlier, I was actually in a production of this show when I was in high school! I was drawn to this musical this year because of the cast that I had available. I have some pretty dynamic “guys” and some really talented “dolls” and wanted to showcase their abilities. The show is a true classic and the music is composed in a big romantic Broadway style that is very captivating.
V: What was the hardest part about this gig so far?
LS: Making sure that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, and not just the cast on stage, but also the volunteers who are sewing costumes, building and designing sets and the parents who are committed to the success of this musical. There are 42 students in the cast, 10 on stage crew, and another 20 in the pit orchestra so there are a lot of people to account for. There are so many small details and it is my job to make sure everything happens. It can be quite stressful, but I do have to say, this is one of my favorite parts of my job.