Guys and Dolls has it all: illegal backroom craps games, speakeasy nightclubs, police crackdowns, and Cuban cigars; it even manages to somehow pack a love story in there.
Winner of the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama — which was then rescinded due to the Red Scare — and several Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Revival, this exemplar of 1950s musicals is now coming to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center after a decades-long hiatus.
"The FAC did this exactly 20 years ago," says Scott RC Levy, executive director of performing arts and director of the show. "Part of our portfolio is to do really excellent productions of what I would call 'Broadway warhorse musicals,' musicals from the golden age of Broadway."
Written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and first produced in 1950 on Broadway, Guys and Dolls is set on the glitzy streets of post-Prohibition New York City and follows illegal game bookie Nathan Detroit and consummate gambler Sky Masterson as they pursue an elusive, high-stakes craps game.
Swerling and Burrows derived the characters and storyline from short stories written in the 1930s by Damon Runyon. (Though Runyon spent much of his youth in Pueblo, he was so in-tune with big-city lingo and mannerisms that stereotypical gangster characters and tropes are now referred to as "Runyonesque.")
Still, don't expect to find a retelling of Goodfellas here; Guys and Dolls is fun, goofy and teeming with lovable characters and hijinks.
Cory Moosman, a 37-year-old Pueblo native, takes on the role of the affable craps game organizer who splits loyalties between his fiancée, Adelaide, and his gambling cronies. "This is maybe my fourth or fifth time doing the show," says Moosman. "I've just never played Nathan Detroit, which is the part I've always wanted to play ... Nathan Detroit is one of the original characters in the Runyon fiction, so he is such an archetypal ... gangster that came out of that fiction."
Guys and Dolls caps off what has been a stellar theater season for the FAC. "The big news is that last week we surpassed all of our previous records for theater season revenue and tickets. And we were still two weeks from opening our last production," says Warren Epstein, media relations and community outreach manager. And judging by the production value, the FAC crew has spared no expense on this great send-off.
"It's actually bigger [than Reefer Madness: The Musical]," Levy says. "In fact, it's even bigger than Mary Poppins, just in terms of number of actors: With 24 actors and a 10-member orchestra, it's the largest cast since the Wizard of Oz."