TR Robertson ….Currently on stage at the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park is the classic Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls”. This wonderfully staged musical has everything theatre goers look for in a musical; a great cast, wonderful singers, colorful sets and costumes, exciting dance routines and an outstanding musical score. The 1950’s musical has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser from a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The story is based on several short stories by Damon Runyon, written in the 1920’s and 1930’s, “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure”.
“Guys and Dolls” Broadway premiere was in 1950 and the musical ran for 1,200 performances, winning 5 Tony’s in 1951, including Best Musical, Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical. It would be turned into a film in 1955, starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra. In a controversial decision, the musical was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1951, but because of Abe Burrows trouble with the House on Un-American Activities Committee, the trustees from Columbia College vetoed the selection and no Pulitzer was given for Drama.
Photos by Jim Cox
Regardless of the 1950’s “drama” surrounding the awards, nothing can take away from the theatrical presence this musical brings to any production. Directed and choreographed by Globe veteran and award winning director, Josh Rhodes, and a talented production staff, “Guys and Dolls” bursts on stage with memorable characters and unforgettable songs.
Colorful costuming by Brian C. Hemesath and wig and make-up designs by Michelle Hart, effective lighting by Paul Miller, creative sound by Kevin Kennedy and the musical direction of Sinai Tabek and an outstanding orchestra, all blend together to bring the story of Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit and their questionable New York city sidekicks and the floating crap game and the Save-a-Soul Mission headed by Sarah Brown and the Hot Box Night Club lead by Miss Adelaide. An extremely colorful stage setting of the glitz and glitter of NYC is designed by Scenic Designer Lee Savage.
Underneath all of this, the rough and tough characters from the streets of New York and their struggle to get by, lies a love story, which at first glance should be doomed to fail. But again, as fate would have it, love can, at times, conquer all and through a series of misadventures, love will win out.
Veterans to the Globe stage, J. Bernard Calloway, as Nathan Detroit, and Terence Archie, as Sky Masterson, bring a rough, street edge to their characters which makes them very likeable and has you rooting for them. Nathan is always looking for a way to make a buck and is involved in a 14 year on-going engagement with Hot Box singer/dancer, Miss Adelaide. J. Bernard Calloway has played the role of the Grinch for years at the Globe. His love interest, Miss Adelaide, played by Veronica J. Kuehn, is an audience favorite with quick and biting humor, a whimsical squeaky voice she mixes with numbers like “Bushel and a Peck”, “Adelaide’s Second Lament”, and “Sue Me”. The other couple, struggling to deal with their different backgrounds and at the same time falling in love, is Sky Masterson and the Save-a-Soul Captain Sarah Brown. Sky, played by Terence Archie who last appeared at the Globe in “Twelfth Night”, has been more successful than Nathan and only bets on what he knows he can win. He meets his match with Sarah, played by a “Guys and Dolls” veteran, Audrey Cardwell. Audrey and Terence’s voices blend together in “I’ll Know” and also are featured in solo numbers “If I Were a Bell” sung by Sarah and “My Time of Day” sung by Sky. Veronica and Audrey perform together in the enthusiastic “Marry the Man Today”. All four leads blend into the different dance routines featured in the musical.
An outstanding compliment of cast members provide a colorful, rich flow to the musical and they are featured in a series of dance routines, especially noted by the enthusiastic “Havana” and all of the male members of the cast in “The Crapshooter’s Dance”. Two other audience favorites stand out for their comedic roles, Todd Buonopane as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Matt Bauman as Benny Southstreet. Todd explodes on stage to the audiences delight in “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”. San Diego stage veteran, Ralph Johnson, as Arvide Abernathy, makes his Globe debut and sings the moving “More I Cannot Wish You” and Linda Libby, as General Matilda B. Cartwright, also makes her globe debut and joins in the enthusiastic “Sit Down….” number.
This is one of those musical classics everyone should have on their list of “must sees” and for many, has been seen more that than once. From the opening “Runyonland” number, the audience is drawn into the streets of New York City and the amazing “cast of characters” that live on the “mean” streets. If you have never seen the musical, you will still recognize the songs. If you have seen the musical, this will offer you another opportunity to see a musical classic with wonderful songs and a great cast.
Tickets for “Guys and Dolls’ begin at $40 and can be purchased at www.TheOldGlobe.org or by phone at 619-234-5623. Through a special arrangement with the San Diego Zoo, Old Globe evening ticket-holders can pre-purchase valet parking in the Zoo employee parking structure for $20 per vehicle. Call the 619-234-5623 number for more information. There are numerous other free parking lots available. “Guys and Dolls” runs until August 13th.