Guys and Dolls - November 09 - November 12, 2017

Sparta High School

   Directors' Notes   


Notes from the Director:  Ellen Hemstock


     Guys and Dolls has always been a favorite of mine.  One of Broadway’s most hilarious shows, it has been described as the perfect musical comedy.  It is based primarily on the Damon Runyon short story, “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown,” which describes the unlikely romance between a pure-at-heart urban missionary and a slick Broadway gambler.  The show’s second romantic storyline involves Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide, who have been engaged for fourteen years.  Nathan organizes the “oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York,” and Adelaide is the main attraction at the Hot Box nightclub.

     Guys and Dolls opened on Broadway on November 24, 1950, at the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre to unanimous rave reviews and played a total of 1,200 performances.  The show won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score.  In 1955, Samuel Goldwyn produced the film version of the show, which starred Marlon Brando as Sky Masterson, Jean Simmons as Sarah Brown, Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit, and Vivian Blaine and Stubby Kaye as Miss Adelaide and Nicely-Nicely Johnson in their original Broadway roles.

     The jazzy music, the hard-shelled, but basically soft-hearted, characters, and the dynamic choreography combine to create a triumph of style.  In the case of Guys and Dolls, luck has been a lady.  We hope you enjoy the show. 


 Notes from the Assistant Director: Skylar Ray Erickson


     Guys and Dolls was actually one of the first shows I had the privilege of seeing when I was younger, and now it being the first show I have directed is quite a memorable time in my life.

     What is essential to realize is that, while Guys and Dolls does demand a particular style, the characters in it must be presented humanly, but with innocence and romanticism which transcends realism.  So, finding the balance is what I've specifically worked with the actors on with each character.  Our gangsters are not the gritty criminals you see on today’s TV series, nor do they come off as cartoon buffoons, but real and openhearted humans with romantic notions and dreams of making it big.

     There are some challenges to bringing Guys and Dolls to the Sparta High School stage.  Guys and Dolls is a very large show.  It takes place in the biggest, flashiest spot in the universe: New York City.  So the challenge is to present this larger-than-life world on the small, yet workable, stage that we have here.  It requires a truly creative scenic design, one that creates the illusion of large areas, and a tremendous costume design unlike any we've ever done.

     Back in the day, musicals were performed in what was called, "Down in One," which means you bring in the curtain, you play the scene in front of the curtain, and meanwhile you are setting up a new scene.  When that scene is over, you bring up the curtain to reveal a new locale behind it.  Today's audiences are more sophisticated and expect smooth, cinematic transitions.  Challenges in this show are getting from scene to scene seamlessly, and creating two vastly different worlds - New York City and Havana - on one stage in a way that is seamless, believable, and complete.  I've tried to incorporate the same old saying of "Down in One," but have also added a twist of inviting the audience to watch the magic of scene changes through a choreographed motion.

     You can expect to have an enjoyable evening through this hilarious musical, and be transported to another place in time by the glorious score, set design, and choreography that is dynamic and character/story-driven.  Sit back and relax as we invite you into the story of Guys and Dolls

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