The composer/lyricist Frank Loesser created a big, splashy sensation 72 years ago with his Tony-winning musical centered on a rowdy, exuberant gang of gamblers, mobsters, and showgirls, all denizens of the New York City underworld in the mid-20th-century — not to mention the holier-than-thou missionaries and reformers out to save them with love.
Based on short stories by Damon Runyon adapted by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, Guys and Dolls depicts life and love as a wild, scintillating game of chance.
The quintessential Golden Age-era musical was built around Loesser’s immortal song standards, including “Adelaide’s Lament,” “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat,” and “Luck Be a Lady.”
The show was last seen on Broadway a dozen years ago, with a revival that was criticized for being somewhat dull and listless. It ultimately proved to be short-lived.
More recently, the show became a direct pandemic casualty: Ford’s Theatre was forced to cancel all performances of its planned production a few days before previews were to start in mid-March of 2020.
Fortunately, the Kennedy Center is now preparing its own staging of the show, as the opening production in the new season of Broadway Center Stage, the organization’s popular series of semi-staged, actor-centered productions. (In addition to Guys and Dolls, the season includes revivals of Sunset Boulevard starring Tony-winner Stephanie J. Block and Kiss of the Spider Woman.)
Marc Bruni, who helmed the Broadway Center Stage revival of The Music Man, returns to direct Guys and Dolls and the production’s large cast, led by Tony-winner James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Hamilton) as gambling kingpin Nathan Detroit, Tony-winner Jessie Mueller (Waitress) as Miss Adelaide, Steven Pasquale as Sky Masterson, and Phillipa Soo as Sarah Brown.
The supporting cast includes Kevin Chamberlin, SNL alum Rachel Dratch, Fred Applegate, and Eden Marryshow.
The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra will provide live accompaniment, performing directly on the stage.
The production’s creative team also includes choreographer Denis Jones, music director Kevin Stites, plus designers Paul Tate dePoo III on sets and projections, Mara Blumenfeld on costumes, Cory Pattak on lighting, and Kai Harada and Kaley Parcher on sound.
Opens Friday, Oct. 7 and runs two weekends, through Oct. 16. In the Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $59 to $299. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
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