Guys & Dolls: Foreign exchange student receives lead role in musical, exceeds director’s expectations


Rachel Cannon, Staff Writer

The musical routine at Blue Valley is something we’ve all come to expect.
There are hours of rehearsal, lines to memorize, songs to learn, intricate costuming, dance moves to perfect — not to mention, plenty of drama.
This year, however, the cast was in for something new.
Foreign exchange student senior Alessandro Pastore said he didn’t expect much when he auditioned for this year’s musical, “Guys and Dolls.”
“Americans are known for their skills in [musical theater],” he said. “When I first came, I didn’t believe I could get in the show. I was like, ‘Yeah, if I get in, I’ll get one of the backstage [roles].’”
Nevertheless, Pastore said he worked hard to do his best for the audition.
“It was my dream to be a part of an American high school musical,” he said. “The first audition was to prepare a song, so I just tried my best. It went well, so I got the callback. At the callback, we had to say some lines from the script, and if [the directors] wanted, we had to sing again.”
The day the cast list came out, Pastore learned he would play one of the leading male roles, Sky Masterson.
“I didn’t see the cast list,” he said. “I was running late that morning, so I just went to my class. Some people in my class were on the list, and they told me. I couldn’t believe it. For me, being the leader of an American musical in America, it’s kind of unbelievable, and I’m so excited.”
This was not the first time Pastore performed on stage.
“In Italy, I’m part of the musical company in my school, and we perform in English,” he said. “I’ve been in ‘Grease’ — I was Danny. I’ve [also] been in ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Fame — The Musical’ and [some] plays.”
Because it allows him to express himself, Pastore said he enjoys performing.
“On stage, I can change my personality,” he said. “I can be other people. I like the reaction of the audience, and I like to make people happy.”
Even with weeks of rehearsal, Pastore said he was nervous on opening night.
“I was dying,” he said. “I was freaking out. Before every performance, I’m always nervous, but this time I was even more nervous.”
Despite his fears, Pastore said the show turned out just fine.
“Everything went perfectly, even though we missed three rehearsals because of the snow days,” he said. “Everything went smooth.”
Marsha Moeller, BV choir teacher and musical director, said she was extremely pleased with the musical.
“The actors, the singers, the dancers, the tech — everyone just did an outstanding job,” she said. “It was everything I had hoped it would be.”
Moeller said she was also pleased with Pastore as a performer.
“He has extremely good instincts as an actor, very good sense of timing and very natural acting skills,” she said. “He’s a delight to work with. [He really wants] to do what you ask him to do. He has an extremely good attitude and work ethic, and he’s already a very accomplished actor.”
Because of his character, Moeller said Pastore modeled being a great leader.
“He did exactly what we wanted as far as preparation,” she said. “[Pastore has a] positive attitude and a passion for theater. He’s very calm, and he takes direction extremely well. He’s eager to do the very best job, and he has a very high standard for himself.”
Moeller said she enjoyed having Pastore in the cast.
“He fit the character perfectly,” she said. “Physically he fit the character — his presence on stage fit the character. We were very thrilled he was here, and I think we’ve all enjoyed getting to know him as a person, as an actor and as a performer.
Moeller said she enjoyed seeing the musical come together.
“To watch the culmination of all of it is just an exciting moment,” she said.
Moeller said she encourages BV students to be a part of the musical next year.
“It’s a great chance to perform for usually large audiences,” she said. “But more than that, it’s a chance to come together with a group of people that have one goal in mind, and that is to perform together at the very highest quality possible. I watched people grow in their acting, grow in their singing and dancing, but also I watched a lot of friendships [being made].”
To better their experience, Moeller said she believes it is important for foreign exchange students to get involved in high school activities.
“I think it gives them a chance to really embrace the American way of doing things — not that we are the only way, but a different way,” she said. “Like [how Pastore] had done theater in Italy, and I kept asking him, ‘Do you guys do this? How do you do this?’ That was fun — just to know a different way of doing things. Also, I think they get to know their fellow students so much better than [by] just going to class. They really make a lot of friends.”
Pastore said he would encourage other foreign exchange students to participate in future musicals.
“You get to know lots of people, and you have fun,” he said. “It’s an amazing experience. It made my experience even better. I’ve learned lots of new things about theatre, like singing and acting. I [also] learned that if I want [something], and I put in effort, I can actually reach [it].”