A Chain of Musicals: GUYS AND DOLLS


To purchase the complete JAY/TER studio cast recording of GUYS AND DOLLS, click on the image above.

In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!

If you like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, then you might like Guys and Dolls.

The robust musical comedy style of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a key feature in what is commonly called – and rightly so, I think – a perfect example of this particular form of musical theatre. And, along with Lorelei and Elle, this show gives us another iconic blonde: the long-suffering showgirl fiancé, Adelaide.

Based on Damon Runyon’s now classic short stories, Guys and Dolls features a marvelous Frank Loesser score embedded in a witty book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The show tells the story of Sarah, a chaste missionary dreaming of love, who is the subject of a bet between Nathan Detriot, who needs $1000 to pay for a venue for his floating crap game, and Sky Masterson, who is a high-flying gambler who is known for taking on unusual bets. Also thrown into the mix is Miss Adelaide, who has been engaged to Nathan for 14 years and is dying to get married. Highlights from the score that help this delightful tale unravel include “I’ll Know”, “Adelaide’s Lament”, “Luck be a Lady”, “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “If I Were a Bell”.

Guys and Dolls is a great show. Of the three musicals that my high school mounted in my time there, it was the only one that I was in – as the Hotbox MC and a dancer in the Havana sequence. Later on, I choreographed another high school’s production and once again enjoyed being around this show’s great score, which contains a number of Broadway standards and not a bum note to be seen. It’s certainly a show I would like to revisit sometime in the future. The other thing that is really great about Guys and Dolls is its book and the way that it brilliantly crafts not only the four leading characters, but also the supporting characters that make the world of “Runyonland” come to life so vividly on stage. Besides two cherished original productions on either side of the Atlantic, the show has been adapted for the silver screen, been re-conceived as for an all African-American cast in 1976 (with some fantastic new arrangements), and received fantastic revivals in the West End and on Broadway in 1982 and 1992 respectively. In 2009, the show returned to Broadway and bombed. It’s often said that Guys and Dolls is impossible to mess up, but here the show was sunk by a director whose concept destroyed the very fibre of the show’s being and whose cast, although great in other roles in other media, probably shouldn’t have been playing these roles on that stage at that point in their careers.

So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on Guys and Dolls. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…

This entry was posted in Abe Burrows, Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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