The curtain opens on the streets of New York, where everything in life — even love — hinges on luck.
That was how it was for Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson since “Guys and Dolls” premiered in Broadway’s 46th Street Theatre in 1950, and that’s the way it’ll be when Runnels Community Theatre opens Frank Loesser’s classic musical on Friday, Sept. 26.
Nina Kelfstrom directs a mixed cast of Runnels alumni, students, faculty, parents and community members in this show, which runs for three performances in the Runnels School Auditorium.
“I chose this musical because it’s fun,” she says. “I was in this show many years ago in college, so it’s also nostalgic for me. This is my first time to produce it.”
Kelfstrom chairs the Runnels School’s Theatre Program, which encompasses kindergarten through the 12th grade. She’s also a regular director for Playmakers of Baton Rouge’s productions.
Playmakers alumnus Wil Thomas joins her in this production as the romantic gambler Sky Masterson, whose $1,000 bet with Nathan Detroit sets the story premise.
Detroit runs the “oldest established, permanent floating crap game in New York” and he’s hunting for a place to set up a high-stakes game. Masterson, meanwhile, makes the bet that he can make the next girl he sees fall in love with him.
That’s Sarah Brown, who heads the Save-A-Soul Mission, played by Emily Gyan.
Gyan is a Runnels alumnus majoring in theater at Loyola University in New Orleans.
“This is the first musical I ever saw, and it just captivated me,” Gyan says.
Thomas performed in his high school’s production of “Guys and Dolls” in his senior year before moving on to LSU to earn a bachelor’s degree in theater.
Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows wrote the play’s book, based on two Damon Runyon short stories, “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure.”
“Damon Runyon wrote the stories in the 1920s, but the play has no set time,” Thomas explains. “You know it’s in the past, somewhere between the 1920s and 1940s, when gamblers and gangsters wore those great clothes.”
- Thomas will get to wear some of that classic fashion in this show. But the best part will be playing Sky Masterson, who Thomas sees as a man who, deep in his heart, really wants to settle down.
“He wants to travel, and he wants to see the world,” Thomas says. “He loves adventure, and he loves challenge. But he’s also a romantic, and I think deep down, he really wants the challenge of being in love and having a home.”
- Will that challenge come to fruition with Miss Sarah Brown? She wears a uniform reminiscent to that of the Salvation Army, and she is true to her mission of introducing sinners to God.
But she’s also human.
“Sarah is proud of what she does in a city of people who don’t care,” Gyan says. “But she’s also quick to judge people. She learns from Sky not to judge so quickly. It’s a good growth for her, I think I’d like her after she’s lightened up a little.”
A live orchestra will back Thomas, Gyan and the rest of the cast as they perform the show’s classics, “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” and, of course, the all-time favorite, “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.”
That last song became a standard for Frank Sinatra, who played Nathan Detroit alongside Marlon Brando’s Sky Masterson in the 1955 film adaptation.
- CAST: Jay Curry, Nathan Detroit; Ona Robbins, Miss Adelaide; Emily Gyan, Miss Sarah Brown; Wil Thomas, Sky Masterson; Shawn Worsham, Nicely-Nicely; David Randall, Benny Southwest; Ben Carpenter, Rusty Charlie; Brett Beoubay, Harry the Horse; Ron Miller, Arvide Abernathy; Michelle Dearie, Agatha; Anne Woods, General Cartwright; Jennifer Carpenter, Mimi. Hot Box Girls — Griffin Gowdy, Nicole Gardana, McKenzie Mayeaux, Jessica Martell, Suzi Brown, Claire Gowdy, Pamela Gyan, Monique Muller, Neely Martin Whitaker, Julie Martin, Jenny Petty. Mission Band members— Laura Hernandez, Kyle Alexander, Amber Ellwood; Crap Shooters — Max Morgan, Jarrett LaBonne, Caleb Manning and Everett Hibner, John Wiese.
- ARTIST STAFF: Neena Kelfstrom, director; Johnice Thoms, vocal director; Jill Swetman, music director; Madeline Arboneaux, stage manager; Allie Nicholson, assistant stage manager.
- ORCHESTRA: Alex Acosta, violin; Garrett Miller, clarinet; Ashley Stansbury, alto saxophone; Brandon Kelfstrom, alto and baritone saxophone; Michael Martinez, Ross Stephens, Austin Stansbury, trumpet; Sam Day, Emma Shupe, trombone; Luc Kharey, cello; Andrew Mitchell, percussion; Alex Stansbury, French horn; Connor Matthews, oboe; John Baird, bass; Bob Cameron, tuba; Gwen Thompson, piano.