Get ready for a little bit of boat rocking when the classic show “Guys and Dolls” takes the stage tonight at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
Winner of the Tony award for best musical in 1950, “Guys and Dolls” is a musical romantic comedy involving the unlikeliest of Manhattan pairings: a high-rolling gambler and a puritanical missionary, a showgirl dreaming of the straight-and-narrow and a crap game manager who is anything but, according to the show synopsis by Stage Agent.The storyline follows con-man Nathan Detroit’s efforts to find new life for his illegal, but notorious, crap game.
When their trusty venue is found out by the police, Nathan has to find a new home for his crap game quickly - but he doesn’t have the dough to secure the one location he finds.
Enter Sky Masterson, a high-rolling gambler willing to take on any honest bet with a high enough reward attached. Nathan bets Sky that he can’t take the “doll” of Nathan’s choosing to Havana, Cuba, with him on a date. When Sky agrees to the bet, Nathan chooses uptight Evangelist Sergeant Sarah Brown, head of Broadway’s Save-a-Soul Mission.
Ben Wren, who has been performing on stage for 28 years, will take the lead as director of the show. This is the third year that he has been directing a show at the Geyer.
“I did one of my favorites, ‘The Fantasticks,” and then a big rock opera last year with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ and this time I wanted to do a big, classic musical with a big band feel and a well-known score,” he said. “I was driving along one day and the song ‘Fugue for Tinhorns’ came on, and I said, ‘I’m going to do Guys and Dolls.’”
The music is Wren’s favorite part of the show.
“Frank Loesser, the composer, wrote a timeless score with standard classics like ‘Luck be a Lady’ and comedic gold mines like ‘Adelaide’s Lament,” he said. “The show-stopping ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ will have people, quite ironically, leaping out of their seats.”
Shawn Conway is taking on the role of Nathan Detroit.
While Conway has never been in the show before, he did direct the junior version of it for Greater Latrobe Junior High School.
“I really like the camaraderie that develops between the guys in the show,” he said. “That’s why I decided to audition. It’s just a lot of fun.”
He added that the show is set in a time “where things were a little more simple.”
“It involves some people doing some crazy things to get ahead in the world - it’s just good slapstick comedy - a classic,” Conway said.
Vanessa Clarke-Deaver takes on the role of evangelist Sarah Brown, which she says is a very different part for her.
“She’s very strong and stands up for what she believes in but her transformation begins after she gets drunk in Havanah and really starts to fall in love with Sky,” she said. “She’s very religious, but as the show goes on, you see her start to let her guard down.”
Clarke-Deaver said she auditioned for the show because it’s a family favorite.
“It’s a very classic Broadway show and one I was raised on,” she said. “My parents used to live in Manhattan, and they actually saw Nathan Lane perform in the Broadway show,” she said. “It’s a dream show for me to do.”
Wren said it’s exciting for him to bring an actor’s touch to directing where he can show the actor what he’s looking for and then watch them put their own touch on what he had in my mind.
“I really enjoy collaborating with the cast and the rest of the creative team to create this world,” he said.
Wren added that throughout this season, the Geyer has had jukebox musicals, heavy dramas and classic 50s musicals.
“’Guys and Dolls’ fits the bill of the big band era musical that allowed so many to fall in love with the stage,” he said. “It’s dated in the sense of the time period it is set in, but timeless in the sense of the story and themes it portrays. The idea that you never know from where love will come and what form it will take is a story that is good for any season at any time.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: www.geyerpac.com or call 724-887-0887.