South Valley Civic Theatre wraps up its 49th season with a return to the first musical it presented in 1970 (as Gilroy Community Theatre): Frank Loesser’s hit musical “Guys and Dolls.”
“This is probably the quintessential American musical,” said producer Adrianne Wilkinson. “It’s funny and it’s got a little bit of something for everyone.”
Based on two Damon Runyon short stories, “Guys and Dolls” is the story of gambler Nathan Detroit, who tries to scare up the money for a big craps game while avoiding the cops and simultaneously dodging his fiancee’s desire to marry after a 14-year engagement. Detroit bets a fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, that he cannot talk a straight-laced missionary into a date in Havana. The story moves from Times Square to Havana to the sewers of New York City before, as any good musical will do, all turns out well.
The show ran for 1,200 performances after it opened on Broadway in 1950 and won five Tony Awards (it also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1951 but the selection was vetoed because of House Un-American Activities Committee concerns over the writer, Abe Burrows, alleged communist sympathies). It also was a hit film in 1955 starring Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons, and has been revived on Broadway to much success.
The SVTC production is directed by Myra Kaelin and stars Michael Kaelin as Nathan Detroit, Joe Hartwell as Sky Masterson, Hillary Little as Miss Adelaide and Megan Griffin as Sarah Brown.
Wilkinson said the musical remains timeless in part because of the approachability of the characters, and in part because of the solid songwriting.
“It’s just a musical that makes people happy. It’s escapism for 2-½ hours,” she said. Wilkinson also appears in the show as Agatha, a member of the Save-A-Soul Mission Band.
“It’s one of my favorite musicals,” she said. “The first time I saw it on stage—WOW!”
Hillary Little, who plays the feisty nightclub singer Adelaide, described her character as “flirty and fun, and you get to use a funny little voice. She’s a nice contrast to Sarah, a little more rough around the edges.”
Allen Siverson, who plays Arvide, one of the missionaries, has one song to sing in the show, “More I Cannot Wish You,” which he called “a sweet song for an old man. It’s a nice role for an old man.”
“It’s a poignant moment in the show,” said Wilkinson.
Joe Hartwell, in his first “Guys and Dolls” performance, said he’s enjoying playing Sky Masterson, “the alpha male. It’s so much fun to play—just the walk. You have to walk into the room and make your presence known.”
Wilkinson tweaked Hartwell for his Tennessee accent.
“We have to get the Southern out of him,” she said, smiling.
“Guys and Dolls.” South Valley Civic Theatre. June 15-July 7 at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse, 17090 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill. Tickets $25, $15 students. 408.842.7463, svct.org.