“Guys and Dolls,” the classical musical about gamblers and the dolls that rocked their world, is undoubtedly one of the most popular shows performed in this century. Created by Damon Runyon, “Guys and Dolls” debuted on Broadway in 1951 and was later made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. In 1997, the show returned to Broadway and starred actor Nathan Lane as Nathan Detroit and Peter Gallagher as the smooth talking Sky Masterson.
Set in New York City, “Guys and Dolls” follows the adventures of the crap game operator, Nathan Detroit and his cronies as they look for a place to shoot crap away from the intrusive eye of Lieutenant Brannigan. To raise capital for the rent of a place for the game, the ever-enterprising Detroit bets his partner in crime, Sky Masterson, $1,000 that he cannot take a certain missionary woman with him to Cuba. Meanwhile, Detroit”s fiance, Miss Adelaide, laments over her inability to secure a wedding date.
This year”s 50-city national tour of the production will mark the 50th anniversary of the famed musical, and will star Maurice Hines as Nathan Detroit. According to the company manager, Susan Guszynski, the concept behind this production is a “fresh new look on an old classic”. Guszynski mentioned that one such twist is including a multi-racial cast.
“This is the first time Nathan Detroit will be played by someone who is not Caucasian,” she said. The character of Miss Adelaide is also being played by an African-American, Alexandra Foucard of “Les Misrables” fame.
“All of the cast members auditioned in New York and since this production was first performed in Washington, D.C., we cast some of the alumni from the original production,” Guszynski said. “And the remaining roles were filled by those who auditioned in New York.”
Director Charles Randolph-Wright and the choreographer, Ken Roberson also worked on the D.C. production and will have the advantage of working with most of the same actors and actresses.
In the Hollywood version of “Guys and Dolls,” Nathan Detroit woos his fianc with the song “Adelaide.” Oddly enough, the song has not been performed since, but Guszynski claims that there is a method to this madness. “The song has not been performed for a long time, because the person cast as Nathan Detroit is usually chosen for his comedic talent rather than his singing ability,” she said. “”Adelaide” sounds best if it is performed by a real singer, but we don”t have this problem as Maurice Hines is an excellent singer.”
Greg Mazure, the production electrician, envisioned the production as ” big and flashy” and had planned to include the image of a plane in the opening segment. After the tragedy of Sept. 11th, he tactfully cut the image, which appeared to be hovering over Times Square. Although he believes that lighting is a vital part of the production, Mazure is quick to comment about the other aspects of the show: ” It”s not about lighting it”s about the dancing and the stars,” he said. “My job is to make sure that the actors are seen and to take as little time as possible. In essence, I try to make it look effortless.”
Susan Guszynski and Greg Mazure are both University alumni and credit their experiences at the University with encouraging an interest in theater.