Guys and Dolls at Hanna Theatre

Guys and Dolls Guys and Dolls, is perhaps, one of the most American of all Broadway musicals. As part of the traditional American theatre repertoire, Guys and Dolls exemplifies a perfect mix of what makes a perfect show… comedy, romance, clever dialogue, and of course, classic songs, from beautiful love ballads to toe-tapping show stoppers.

With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950, and it continues to be performed more than sixty years later. Now part of the 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare, Guys and Dolls is a true classic that has been revived numerous times… from Broadway to London to Melbourne, Australia… and has become a major component of the American theatre canon.

Produced by Great Lakes Theater, Guys and Dolls is the second collaboration between GLT and PlayhouseSquare. And let us hope that it is not the last! Partnerships of this type are few and far between and invaluable to theatre and a performing arts center like PlayhouseSquare, the second largest in the nation. And for nine weeks this spring, Guys and Dolls will delight patrons of both Great Lakes Theater and PlayhouseSquare on the stage of the beautiful Hanna Theatre.

Guys and Dolls has been described as “a musical fable of Broadway.” And the show features some of the most memorable of Broadway songs from the comedic “Adelaide’s Lament” to the love ballad “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” to one of the all-time classic show-stoppers “Luck Be a Lady.” Guys and Dolls was last revived on Broadway in 2009, but theatre patrons in Northeast Ohio do not have to wait for the next Broadway revival; the show is here and now in Cleveland.

Many making their Great Lakes Theater debut, the talented cast members bring Guys and Dolls alive on the Hanna stage with great joy and gusto, as they tell the story and display a great passion for their craft. Harry Bouvy is an especially goofy, but endearing, Nathan Detroit; Steel Burkhardt is a most handsome and debonair Sky Masterson; and Leah Horowitz is a stuffy, although delightful, Sister Sarah Brown. But Kirsten Wyatt as Miss Adelaide, one of Broadway’s greatest creations, steals the show. Her scenes are the highlight of the evening… and that is in a production, which in itself, is a great highlight of Cleveland theatre.

Frank Loesser and his work have been honored many times. The original production of Guys and Dolls won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1951. The 1992 revival won both the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical. And the 2005 London revival won the 2006 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.

Loesser also won both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1962. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is one of only eight musicals to win the Pulitzer since its inception in 1917. It is interesting to note that Guys and Dolls had been selected for the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but its selection was later vetoed due to Abe Burrows’ issues with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Oh, those were the days

Like Anything Goes, which opened this year’s KeyBank Broadway Series, Guys and Dolls is glorious, “old school” Broadway at its very best. And it provides for an enchanting evening of live theatre. Whether this is your first time or your tenth, or your twentieth, for that matter, GLT’s Guys and Dolls is well worth a viewing. With all the newer and more modern Broadway shows that have come along, one does not get the opportunity to revisit a classic this often… now is your chance. Guys and Dolls will continue through June 30.

Great Lakes Theater’s 2013-2014 Season will open with Shakespeare’s Richard III (September 27 – November 3) in repertory with Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (October 4 – November 2), followed by the 25th anniversary production of Dicken’s holiday classic A Christmas Carol (November 30 – December 22). 2014 will bring Ira Levin’s Deathtrap (February 21 – March 16) and Shakespeare’s As You Like It (April 4-19).

Christopher S. Musselman

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