Arts and Entertainment

'Guys and Dolls' in Port Orchard takes a gamble on romance

Western Washington Center for the Arts debuts
Western Washington Center for the Arts debuts 'Guys and Dolls' in Port Orchard April 30.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Few stage musicals come more classic than “Guys and Dolls,” a gambler’s romance set in Damon Runyon’s colorful 1950s New York City. The show opens at Port Orchard’s Western Washington Center for the Arts Friday, April 30.

Director Jan Ewen and crew have transformed the little playhouse on the waterfront into the sewers and streets and clubs of the Big Apple, a fitting backdrop for the show’s mythical ne’er do wells.

“It is fun to immerse yourself in that early 50’s New York vibe,” Ewen said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia in it. I think the audience will be left singing these songs and having a great evening of fun.”

Those songs include a few biggies — Vegas’ “Luck be a Lady,” the delectably ridiculous “Adelaide’s Lament,” “If I Were a Bell” — that have remained pop-conscious favorites. The original Broadway show saw a run of more than 1,000 shows and earned a Tony Award for Best Musical. There have been several revivals, including two in London’s West End, and a movie made in 1955.

“It’s a great story, a great script with wonderful music,” Ewen said.

She assembled a cast fit to fill roles made famous (they’ll follow the footsteps of some of Broadway’s best: Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Nathan Lane) and sing songs that have become anthems of the Great White Way. A plentiful audition turnout, with several demanding roles to cast, made the task a surmountable one, she added.

“We ended up with a very strong cast,” Ewen said.

Of the 30 players, real-life husband-wife duo Michael and Amy Anderson step into the personas of slick, suited Nathan Detroit and his long-suffering lady Adelaide. Ewen’s “Guys and Dolls” also features Nash Rhaburn as high-roller Sky Masterson and Cherisse Martinelli as missionary Sarah Brown.

“Guys and Dolls” follows Detroit, as he ring leads “The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York” and bets Masterson he can’t convince good-girl Brown to accompany him to Havana. The show is based on “The Idyll of Sarah Brown” and other characters created by Runyon; music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser. Ewen’s husband, Bruce Ewen, is music director. WU

See 'Guys and Dolls'

At Port Orchard’s Western Washington Center for the Arts, 521 Bay St., from April 30 to May 30. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. Sunday. Call (360) 769-7469 or visit www.wwca.us for tickets.

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