For some guys, life is a gamble—every day another throw of the dice. New York hustler Sky Masterson seems to be on a roll, but in the game of romance, his luck is about to run out. Will he beat the odds and get the girl, or come up snake-eyes? Perseverance Theatre’s musical dream team presents Guys and Dolls, the brash Broadway favorite based on the street-wise stories of Damon Runyon and featuring the immortal songs of Frank Loesser.
Director Shona Osterhout, musical director Robert Cohen, and choreographer Ricci Adan—partners in crime on Perseverance’s 2014 runaway hit Chicago—have brought together an all-star cast, including Enrique Bravo as Sky Masterson, Allison Holtkamp as the pious Sarah Brown (the unlikely “doll” on whom Sky’s fortunes depend), James Sullivan as the wisecracking gangster Nathan Detroit, and Ericka Lee as his long-suffering fiancé, Adelaide. The creative team includes Paul Spadone (costumes), Greg Mitchell (lighting), and Art Rotch (set design).
“With a cast of all-Alaskan theatre artists (granted, one just recently moved to New York City and we lured him back for another go), this production of Guys and Dolls shows me once again how talented our state’s artists truly are,” director Shona Osterhout says. “When we invest in Alaskan artists, the payoff for our great state’s audiences is grand. And this show is funny, so we get to forget about the state’s budget for a while.”
Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950, running for 1,200 performances and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. Still widely regarded a classic of the Golden Age, the show has had several Broadway and London revivals, and a 1955 film adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine helped make beloved American standards of such songs as “Luck Be a Lady,” “My Time of Day,” “If I Were a Bell,” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
The plot of Guys and Dolls hinges on a series of hilarious, high-stakes gambles: As wisecracking gangster Nathan Detroit struggles to find a home for his floating crap game, simultaneously evading both the authorities and his marriage-minded girlfriend Adelaide, the suave Sky Masterson finds himself on the wrong end of his own long-odds bet: Can he persuade the anti-gambling, anti-drinking crusader Sarah Brown to accompany him to a nightclub in Havana… and win her heart, over a few “Cuban milkshakes”?
“Some of the circumstances and language in this piece do read as archaic, especially in this particular day and age,” Osterhout admits, “but these actors are so good at playing fully fleshed-out characters. There’s nothing superficial about the guys and dolls in our production—and because of their depth of character in these roles, we actually have a funnier show, in my opinion.”
Adds the veteran director, “Many times this musical is done with a cast of forty or fifty people—basically, have as many guys and dolls as you want. We have chosen a more intimate staging, with a tighter-knit cast. You will see actors play multiple roles. It’s so fun to watch their transformations.”
Guys and Dolls continues Perseverance’s landmark 40th anniversary season, which began this fall with Thornton Wilder’s iconic drama Our Town and the world-premiere plays Franklin, by Samantha Noble, and Whale Song, by Cathy Tagnak Rexford. Still to come is Steve Martin’s naughty comedy The Underpants (playing May 17-June 16 in Juneau). In addition, Anne Hanley’s The Winter Bear will tour to smaller communities across the state.
Run: March 15-April 14 at Perseverance Theatre, 914 Third Street in Douglas. There will be a Pay-What-You-Can preview at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14.
Show times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays; additional 7:30 p.m. Wednesday shows on April 3 and 10.
Ticket prices: $37-$49 for adults, $32-$44 for seniors and military, $20-$32 for students. March 17 and 21 performances are Pay-What-You-Can; Juneau Arts Night (50 percent off all tickets) is Wednesday, April 3.
Photos of the cast by Brian Wallace, staged at Juneau’s historic Westmark Baranof Hotel. From left, James Sullivan, Ericka Lee, Allison Holtkamp, Enrique Bravo.