Book by Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows
Music & Lyrics by Frank Loesser
adapted from stories by Damon Runyon

INFO:

Opened at the 46th St. Theater    November 24, 1950    1,200 performances (And MANY revivals)
Original Director: George S. Kaufman
Original Choreographer: Michael Kidd
Original Producer: Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin
Original Leads: Sky Masterson: Robert Alda   Sarah Brown: Isabel Bigley   Nathan Detroit: Sam Levene    Adelaide: Vivian Blaine    Nicely Nicely Johnson: Stubby Kaye
Cast Size: Male: 7    Female: 2    Ensemble: At least 6-6    Total Cast Size: Over 20, as many more as you can do.
Orchestra: 18, Can be done with piano/bass/drums.
Published Script: It doesn’t appear to have been published. You can find it for free (illegally) on the Internet.
Production Rights: MTI (Music Theater International)
Recordings: The original Broadway, 1950. The 1992 version with Nathan Lane is good, as well.
Film: Pretty good, with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons, Vivian Blaine, Stubby Kaye. Worth a look.
Other shows by the authors: Loesser wrote scores for Where’s Charlie, The Most Happy Fella (and the script!), How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, the film musical, Hans Christian Anderson.   Burrows: Can-Can, Silk Stockings
Awards: The Tony for Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor (Alda), Best Performance by a Featured Actress (Bigley), Best Choreography (Kidd), Best Direction (Kaufman). MANY other awards.

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

Few shows (if any) are more beloved. Amongst those “in the know,” Guys & Dolls is generally considered a perfect Musical Comedy, one of two. (The other is My Fair Lady.) It is one of those rare shows where everything works. Nearly every song (only one exception) became a hit, which is almost unheard of! Productions by the hundreds are done every year, even though the show is over 60 years old. It is a tight-as-a-drum story with great characters and an unforgettable score.  An ideal show for many large High School drama departments, well-funded and populated colleges, regional houses, larger Little Theaters, perfect for stock, and any professional venue.

Be Warned:

G&D is a truly large show! While it is true that Little Theaters do it all the time, and adapt it to their smaller space and limited resources, this really is a show that should be done big if it can be. It has significant choreographic demands, many sets (though there may be ways to work around that one), period costuming (America, 1940s-1950s), and a score that really benefits from more than piano/bass/drums.

It’s about gamblers, and one seduces a Salvation Army worker. There are several numbers in a location called “The Hot Box”, where Miss Adelaide and other scantily-dressed ladies sing and dance. (The songs are actually very innocent by any standard.) If the subject matter is offensive for your group or audience (and it really should not be), you should not do it.

THE STORY:

ACT ONE: The streets of NYC, in the late 40s-early 50s are revealed, filled with prototype guys and dolls, people looking for any angle. (“RUNYONLAND”) Three gamblers rhapsodize about upcoming horse races and the bets they will place. (“FUGUE FOR TINHORNS”) They are interrupted by the Salvation Army Mission band and today’s preacher, Sister Sarah Brown, determined to save souls. (“FOLLOW THE FOLD”) In this way, Loesser immediately and brilliantly establishes the two forces that will work against each other. It is clear that Sister Sarah has far less pull on the denizens of NYC than the races do.

In the meantime, Lt. Brannigan of NYC’s finest is putting the heat on our favorite bookie, Nathan Detroit. The whole town is hot, his credit is lousy and Detroit must find somewhere to hold a crap game. (“THE OLDEST, ESTABLISHED, PERMANENT FLOOATING CRAP GAME IN NEW YORK”) Nicely-Nicely and Benny Southstreet let Nathan know that the biggest gambler of them all, Sky Masterson, is in town and looking for some action. Detroit needs $1,000, and since Sky will bet on anything, Detroit tries to think of a sure bet he can win. Nathan’s doll, the Hot Box singer-dancer Miss Adelaide, approaches Nathan with a present – it’s their 14th anniversary dating. (He keeps chickening out on marrying her.) He has forgotten the anniversary, but she accepts it as she accepts everything he does to her. Nathan’s buddies come up with a sucker bet involving cheesecake and strudel sales at a local restaurant, Mindy’s, as Sky Masterson approaches. The two men talk, and Nathan works a bit too obviously to force the sucker bet. Sky is far too smart, and instead bets Nathan he can’t name the color of his own tie without looking. Nathan turns the bet down, disgusted with himself. Sky can see that Nathan has Adelaide on the brain, that he has been “trapped.” Nathan angrily asks why Sky doesn’t have a doll. Sky says he can get any doll Nathan names, and take her to Havana that night. They make that $1,000 bet, and at that moment the Salvation Army Band walks by. Nathan selects Sister Sarah, and Sky knows he’s been suckered.

At the Mission, Sister Sarah rails at New York. Father Arvide listens and gently chides her, but it appears the Mission will soon close. Sky enters the Mission, “heavy with sin,” and begs Sister Sarah, and only Sister Sarah, to help him. Sarah rebuffs him with a misquote from the Bible, which Sky corrects. Being a man who does a lot of traveling, and being as every hotel room has a Gideon Bible, Masterson knows his scripture. He lays his eggs on the table. If she’ll accompany him to Havana, he’ll make sure the Mission’s next meeting is filled with grade-A sinners. She again rebuffs him- he’s not the right guy. She’ll know him when he shows up, since he’ll be honest, clean cut, etc. Sky contradicts her, claiming that it’s chemistry that makes love happen. (“I’LL KNOW”) She finds herself fascinated by him. He goers for the kiss, she appears to give in…and then slugs him.

Nathan talks to a guy named Joey, whose garage he plans to rent with the $1,000 he’s sure Sky will lose. The man waits to see the money. At the Hot Box, Adelaide performs with her “farm” girls. (“A BUSHEL AND A PECK”) Nathan meets her after the show, and finds her actually carrying a book, a psychological primer on psychosomatic illnesses women catch from…well, guys who wait 14 years to get married. She informs Nathan that she long ago wrote her mother to say they were married…with five kids(one named Nathan Jr.) who is in Boarding School and just won the football game. Nathan is stunned. She demands they get married. He weasels away. Alone, she reads the book and comes to grips with the fact that her constant cold and fevers are a result of marriage interruptus. (“ADELAIDE’S LAMENT”, one of the greatest Musical Comedy numbers.)

Sky is still pursuing Miss Sarah, to no avail. Nicely Nicely and Benny Southstreet rhadsodize on the interplay of the sexes, and hopeless men are against women. (“GUYS AND DOLLS”) Back at the Mission, Sarah has finally shook off Sky, though Father Arvide suspects she is interested. They are interrupted by the General for that area of the Salvation Army, a woman of great energy and determination. She is there to tell them that the Mission must be closed – too few sinners step through its doors. Sky enters and overhears this. He presents himself as a “former sinner,” and asks the General to come to the Mission the next night…when it will be filled with sinners. Sarah can only accept, soundlessly.

The gamblers have all collected, carnations in their jackets, to play craps, Big players from out of town, Harry the Horse, Liverlips Louise, and of course, Big Jule from Chicago, are waiting to play, so Nathan had better come through. He is waiting for Sky to pay up on his bet, and then he’ll have a place. Lt. Brannigan walks in on this cheerful crowd, and suspects a game, but can’t prove it. The men, flowers in lapels, all claim they’ve gathered for Nathan’s wedding…just as Adelaide stumbles in on them, as well. Nathan tries to put the inevitable off, but Brannigan wryly suggests they bypass the legalities and elope. Trapped, Nathan surrenders. The players put pressure on to play, suggesting that maybe Sky got the doll to go to Havana. Even as Nathan is laughing at the possibility, the Mission Band walks by…with no Sarah Brown.

In Havana, at the Cafe Cubano, Sky gets Sarah an “innocent drink”, Dulce de Leche, “Sweet Milk.” She likes it, and gets good and drunk, per Sky’s plan. She even starts a bar fight, and Sky rescues her. Alone, she expresses her joy over what she feels right now. (“IF I WERE A BELL”) She is falling for Sky. It’s more than he wants, and he offers to take her back to NYC, but she doesn’t want to go. He tells her that a doll like her should not get involved with a no-good like him. He does take her back, and sober now, she thanks him for his good sense. They pass Adelaide on the street, who is celebrating her upcoming elopement. Sarah realizes that late night on a big city street is Sky’s time. (“MY TIME OF DAY”) They are falling in love. (“I’VE NEVER BEEN IN LOVE BEFORE”) As they approach the Mission, they see a lot of activity. It turns out that Nathan has used Sarah’s absence to make use of the Mission for his crap game. She is furious, and certain Sky set her up. (He did not, and is equally surprised.) They part on bad terms, she more certain than ever that she’s “a Mission doll.”

ACT TWO: At the Hot Box, Adelaide and her debutantes perform “TAKE BACK YOUR MINK”, doing a faux strip as they return to their gentlemen friends those gifts they’ve been given. Sky shows up, ready to get drunk. Nicely-Nicely approaches him to explain that Nathan cannot pay off on his bet, because miraculously, the crap game is still going on. He also helps Nathan weasel out of his engagement with Adelaide. Adelaide is distraught, and asks Sky why Nathan can’t change. Sky asks why women always want men to change, and explains that he and Nathan are no good. He advises her to get another guy, and prepares to leave town. Adelaide cannot give Nathan up. (“ADELAIDE’S LAMENT, reprise”)

Sarah speaks to Father Arvide (Sarah’s grandfather, by the way). She says that she’ll get over Masterson. Father Arvide suggests that love isn’t pneumonia, and sings of his wish for her to have a good and happy life. (“MORE I CANNOT WISH YOU”, the only non-hit in the score, though a very sweet song.) Sky enters the Mission, planning to pay of his marker to her – a dozen sinners for the meeting that night. She storms away – but Arvide tells Masterson if he welches on his marker, the whole town will know. With a plan, Sky follows Nicely to the crap game.

A sewer, under NYC. The gamblers are all present, exhausted, still rolling dice. Big Jule, the biggest tough, is losing big, and insists on playing on credit – with no intention of ever paying it off. And he will use his own dice, dice that are lacking spots. Nathan is afraid he’ll get hurt, and reluctantly agrees, when Sky shows up. He wants to speak to the men, but Big Jule continues to bully. Sky decks him. He asks the guys to show up at the Mission, and offers to roll them for it. Everything he’s got against their showing up, one roll of the dice. (“LUCK BE A LADY”) He rolls…

The men are on their way to the Mission. Nathan runs into Adelaide on the street, and she treats him coolly. He can’t stand it, and agrees to marry. She gives him a letter from her mother, addressed to Nathan, saying how proud she is that he’s the assistant manager at the local A&P. He’s offended that, in her fiction, Adelaide couldn’t make him the manager. She wants to get married NOW, but he tells her he’s going to a prayer meeting. (They lost the bet.) She is furious – believing it’s the biggest lie he ever told her. He begs her to understand. (“SUE ME”)

At the Mission. It’s empty, and the General becomes impatient. Then Sky marches in with many sinners and orders them to sit down. Sarah is stunned, Arvide and the General, thrilled. Sky places Nathan in charge, and leaves to go out of town. The men are asked to “give testimony.” After a few hopeless attempts, Nicely-Nicely rises and sings the biggest song in the show, about the wages of sin. (“SIT DOWN, YOU’RE ROCKING THE BOAT”) Brannigan steps in, and says that he’ll do his testifying in court, about all these men he saw gambling in the Mission last night. But Sister Sarah stands up and announces she “never saw these men in her life.” Brannigan has no case, and the gamblers are saved…at least from prison. Nathan confesses that he made a bet with Sky to take Sarah to Havana…and that he lost the bet. Sky has told him they never went. Sarah is surprised and thrilled, and quickly leaves the meeting.

Sarah encounters Adelaide on the street. They are both disconsolate. What should they do- these men will never change! They finally decide to “MARRY THE MAN TODAY”, and change his ways, tomorrow. Next we see them they’re in gowns, ready to be married. Nathan is having the age-old problem, only he’s not looking for a place to hold a crap shoot, but a wedding. Arvide offers the mission. Happy ending. (“GUYS AND DOLLS reprise.)

THE SONGS:
“Runyonland”; “Fugue For Tinhorns”; “Follow The Fold”; “The Oldest, Established Permanent Floating Crap Game In New York”; “I’ll Know”; “A Bushel And A Peck”; “Adelaide’s Lament”; “Guys And Dolls”; “If I Were A Bell”; “My Time Of Day”; “”I’ve Never Been In Love Before”; “Take Back Your Mink”; “More I Cannot Wish You”; “Luck Be A Lady”; “Sue Me”; “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat”; “Marry The Man Today”

Hits include “I’ll Know”; “A Bushel And A Peck”; “Adelaide’s Lament”; “Guys And Dolls”; “If I Were A Bell”; “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”;”Luck Be A Lady”; “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat”

MY OPINIONS:

As ever, feel free to ignore my opinions and rating.  I’ll just send over Big Jule from Chicago, to have a little word with you…

Guys And Dolls is probably the most perfect Musical Comedy. If I had to select a single example of Musical Comedy to represent the genre, this would be it. (Or maybe My Fair Lady…) Every line of dialogue and lyric is just right for the particular character. Almost every line intended to get a laugh does, and still does so after 60 years. The songs are crazy good. The lyrics are beyond clever, each lyric wedded precisely to the character singing it while providing a shining example of popular song writing at its best, a tap dance almost impossible to achieve. The word “masterpiece” is overused today, but Guys & Dolls is certainly one. It is one of the great crowd-pleasers of the 20th century. I would go so far as to say that no collection of the 20th century’s greatest literature should exclude Guys & Dolls.

Hyperbole? Not really. Musical theater and jazz are considered America’s two great contributions to popular culture, and this is one of the best, if not the best, American musical.  That said, it not the most perfectly producible Musical Comedy. It’s BIG and expensive to do. It’s requirements would tax the largest theater company or department. If you want easily produced shows, there are many others you should consider, most of them discussed in this book. But if you have the resources and want a big roll of the dice, what a great show!

MY RATING: *** (An exceptional show, bordering on (if not) perfect, and one of my personal favorites.)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:

The music to Guys & Dolls is a notch higher in difficulty than many other musical comedies. Loesser’s score hums with unusual jazz intervals and harmonics. This provides the score great energy, but it can also provide a bit of a trial for the singer to learn the songs, especially an inexperienced singer. The rhythmic content is not too hard, it’s pretty much straight ahead except for character pieces built on the actor’s performance requiring more of a rubato feel, such as “Adelaide’s Lament.” But overall, the conductor and the orchestra do not need to look at this as a difficult show. There are MANY cast albums one can listen to which will provide a strong sense of the music. The show calls for a large-ish orchestra, but High Schools have been successfully doing this show forever. (I did the show when I was in High School, with our High School orchestra providing capable enough accompaniment.)

Ideally, you will do this show with a pretty full orchestra. It can be done with piano/bass/drums. But a score as rich and beloved as this one deserves better treatment whenever possible. If your resources are limited, consider a few strings and brass, or at least two synths to replicate the orchestration on top of the standard trio. (One synth programmed for strings, the other for brass and other sounds.)

As to the singers, Sarah Brown needs an almost legit soprano voice, the best voice in the cast.

Sky is the romantic leading man, and he must sing well, romantically, with energy, a crooner part but with an edge, baritone.

Adelaide is a comic alto with lots of personality. We need to believe she could sing in a club, as she does. Get yourself an experienced performer. The Hot Box girls must be shrill, on pitch, funny. She’ll need a real belt. Alto with power.

Nathan sings, but he doesn’t need to sing very well as can be witnessed in the original Broadway recording. The movie cast Frank Sinatra, so they obviously went for an extraordinary singer, and they even gave him a new song,“ADELAIDE.” But the show does not require a crooner. It needs a very strong character actor who can sort-of carry a tune, but who will not sacrifice the character to a pretty sound. Usually a baritone.

Nicely-Nicely needs a big tenor voice that can soar over the mob.

The gamblers should all sing fairly well, as they will need to carry harmonies in “Oldest Established…”, “Luck, Be A Lady”, and throughout.

Guys & Dolls was adapted for an all-Black cast in 1976. Some of the orchestrations were doctored to create more of a jazz/R&B feel to the score. I musical directed a version many years ago with a nearly all-Black cast (the Adelaide was the sole white member of the cast), and we also doctored the score. Given that the songs are strongly jazz-oriented anyway, this isn’t a hard task. Example: “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat” is already a take on Gospel, and it’s natural to open it up and make it roar.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:
There’s some serious dancing called for in G&D. The opening “overture” is a ballet, “Runyanland,” where we’re shown various NYC street types. This can get very dance-oriented, depending on your choreographer and available talent. In Havana, there’s another big dance sequence introducing the town. Then there’s a choreographed bar-fight which can be very complicated. “Luck Be A Lady” is almost always a big dance number. The Hot Box numbers will need specialized choreography. Even “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat” could move increasingly into a Gospel/Revival-feel with lots of movement.

In other words, you will need dancers, and a real choreographer who is comfortable with late 1940s-early 1950s forms of dance. They must also be very strong developing characters through dance. This show doesn’t encourage dance for dance sakes for the most part, but rather dance to forward plot and character development.

CASTING CONCERNS:
This is a show built on “types.” Gamblers, “dolls”, coppers, Missionaries. You’re going to be looking for the sort of faces and voices one might have heard on a NYC street in the early 50s. The show belongs to a time and a place, and the casting will ideally reflect that.

Sky must be a man’s man, the type women fall for quickly, since that’s how he’s talked about and presented. Yet, he’ll need an edge of danger, he’ll bet on anything. He’s smart, remembers everything he’s read, can’t be conned easily no matter what others think. Nighttime is his “time of day,” he’s comfortable with shadows, potential danger. I don’t think ethnicity or color should enter into your casting concerns, the right man will work regardless. Late 20s-30s. (See vocal needs above for the characters.)

Sarah must be very attractive, or Sky, a man who can get just about any woman, would not fall so hard for her. She must project strength that masks inexperience and vulnerability. She is earnest about her grandfather’s Mission and the saving of souls, there’s nothing ironic to her job. She suppresses a wild side that finally allows her to go to Havana, and even to fall quickly in love. She is smart, but rapid to judge, more inclined to be controlled by her emotions than her common sense. 20s-30s.

Nathan Detroit’s mind never stops scheming. He is always looking for a dollar, an angle, a game. He tends to be emotional about things, and gives in to fear easily as is true of many people who spend their lives living on the edge. There must be something loveable about the man, or Miss Adelaide would not love him. He must be sweet to her in private, as they’ve gone on for 14 years and he has not married her, but she’s stuck it out with him. And he clearly has Adelaide as a genuine weakness. Part of what draws him to her might be seeing her on stage as other men watch her hungrily. She must be a catch to some degree. So, on some level then, must Nathan. But the actor must be exceptionally good at pulling a laugh from a funny line or moment, using the character’s feverish needs to motivate the action. 40s or so.

Miss Adelaide is a performer, a dancer, and is in very good condition for a woman in her 40s. But she wears a bit too much make-up in an attempt to arrest the clock, mostly on Nathan’s behalf. She is preternaturally attached to him, and the actor must figure out why this is so. She must be a decent performer, being in NYC and able to fight off competition for the Hot Box gig, at her age. Don’t assume the Hot Box is a joke and lampoon it, it would be a mistake. (That doesn’t mean those numbers aren’t funny and sexy. On the contrary, that’s how the club stays alive.)

Nicely-Nicely Johnson is often played as an overweight cherub of a man, guileless and, in some strange way, well-intended. He must be to invent “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat.” I think this actor should be innately likeable. He watches his fellow man closely, and even likes people. What other kind of man could come up with the sentiments in the title song? He is the anti-Big Jule, inherently gentle and even spiritual in a not-very-bight kind of way. This requires a good comic actor.

The gamblers and mobsters are critical to the success of the piece. We must believe that in a comic universe, they are real. Big Jule is most important. He must be funny, but huge, tough, scary, brute force without intellect, genuinely threatening. Otherwise Sky is just a bully when he knocks the man down. Harry The Horse is a mobster, but one who can’t seem to make up his mind who to back. Harry backs whoever has muscle at the moment, and so shifts from Big Jule to Sky.

Father Arvide Abernathy is Sarah’s grandfather, in his 50s-60s. A very good role with a sweet, single song for a mature actor looking for a modest challenge. A religious man, certainly – but one with an eminently practical side, and an understanding of the street, bets, markers, and the psychology of gamblers. A pragmatist preacher.

The General should be a mature, imposing woman with great and infectious vitality and a twinkle of humor in her eye. You’ll want her to double in group scenes, probably, so casting a physically large woman might make it harder to hide the doubling. That is how she’s generally cast. Over to you.

SETS:
This show has big sets! Most important among them are the Mission, the street where so much action takes place, the Hot Box stage (and part of the club), the Havana nightclub, and the fantastic sewer where “Luck Be A Lady” takes place. These five sets house the vast bulk of the play. Many productions play smaller scenes “in 1,” or in front of the main drape, while scenery is switched out behind the drape for the next big scene. Often, when playing in 1, no set or sense of location is provided. This is, after all, Musical Comedy. Numbers like “Sue Me”, and “Adelaide’s Lament” work best in 1, close to the audience, lit by a follow spot or two. The same can be done with the scene including “If I Were A Bell,” as the Havana set is removed and the NYC street is restored behind the drape. “Marry The Man Today” will work well in 1, as the set behind goes from the Mission to the NYC street. This use of the apron (the area in front of the main drape on a proscenium stage) is a common practice in Musicals, when using a proscenium stage without real depth, or a great fly system. With a big show, this idea can be very important, and make set changes possible in a way that feels fluid and does not slow down the show. (Noise, however, can be a big factor. A main drape does not cut out a lot of backstage noise. Something to think about.)

By the way, the sewer set will need a top, or ceiling with pipes exposed and the like. They need to feel underground. (And if the sound guys can generate a slight echo to the actor’s voices in this scene, that might be effective.) The background sounds of dripping water might remind us where we are, as well. You should coordinate with whoever is doing sound design.

Can Guys & Dolls be done on a unit set? Sure. ALMOST ANY SHOW CAN BE DONE ON A UNIT SET. I put that is caps because that approach to sets alone can make a show possible for a group that otherwise would have been too demanding. But your question in this case probably shouldn’t be “can a unit set work, “, but rather “what will work best with our resources.” I think G&D could be played okay on an open stage, no drape at all. I think that, if you have decent flies, you could fly in the “roof” and roll in the alter for the mission if you want, and benches could double as benches on the street. The Hot Box can be a thrust platform that rolls on. The same can be used for the Havana band, I guess. It all could be done. But I also think that G&D is a BIG, Broadway show. Reducing it down is dangerous, you might considerably lower the “wow” factor of the show, a part of its appeal.

A very good stage manager will be important for this show. There are lots of sets, costumes, costume changes, props, you name it. Backstage will be a traffic jam nightmare without a capable crew operated by someone experienced who knows what they are doing.

COSTUMES:
G&D is not a representational show. It does not provide a narrator or violate the 4th wall. The action proceeds as it might in any “well-made play,” where the audience is the hidden intruder, peeking into the keyhole. That said, it presents an image of NYC denizens that is very theatrical and unashamedly over the top. And it very much belongs to its time, around 1950. So your costumes for gamblers, Hot Box girls and Missionaries will need to have a touch of both the truth, and the theatrical.

As we move farther away from the period, it will get harder to find costumes pre-made for this period. Costume shops are your best bet. But there’s a very high likelihood that you’ll need to build some costumes, and perhaps many of them. The easiest will be the black almost military uniforms for the Salvation Army. The hardest will include the Havana costumes. The Hot Box Girls will need two sets of costumes; sexy farm girl next door (“Bushel And A Peck”), and rich but under-dressed debutante (under her furs) (“Take Back Your Mink”).

Sky must look great, a man among men and tailored. Nathan and the other gamblers should be somewhat rumpled and distressed by comparison.

Equally, Sister Sarah should be starched to perfection. She takes her job seriously. (And she also has to have a real woman’s shape- she’s a “doll!” Your costume must manage to show that off. And what article of clothing might be loosened or lost during the Havana number, as she gets drunk and hot? And what will that reveal?)

Adelaide takes great care in her clothes and appearance. Her dresses are tailored, if a bit elaborate, showy, sensational and sexy. She is not some prototype slut or degraded woman. She is a woman in love with the wrong man. Another man would have made an honest woman of her long ago. She is employed, and has some money – certainly more than Nathan.

Brannigan, our detective, should be in a cheap suit for that period, probably brown.

PROPS:
Dice, guns, prayer books, booze in Cuban glasses, the props help tell the story of G&D. A big show like this usually uses quite a number of props, some of them expendables. The Havana drunken brawl is likely to require breakaway bottles and the like. Most of the props will be easy to locate. Some might have to be built. For a big show, G&D is pretty simple where props are concerned.

LIGHTING:
Lots of big numbers, lots of moods. You’re going to want some washes, like blue for the street and night scenes. You’ll want to be able to isolate in a well-defined ray of light the pulpit at the Mission, especially for Nicely-Nicely’s number. If you play in 1, you may well need two follow spots. (You should have them for this show, regardless.) You’re going to need a lot of lamps, or some strategically utilized smart lamps. You can get some interesting moods with shadows and beams of light on the street scenes, and even in the sewer. (Some productions accent the light in the sewer with ultraviolet, which can be a very cool way to change the mood and give a sense of being “underground.”)

On a big stage, it will be important to use lighting to restrict and make intimate the more intimate scenes, such as the scenes between Sarah and Sky.

MAKE-UP:
Outside of the “farmgirls” and “debutantes,” who will need distinctly theatrical make-up (they’re on stage performing in a musical on stage performing…), most of the make-up should be unobtrusive and complimentary, especially where Sky and Sarah are concerned. Big Jule and Harry the Horse are thugs, and if you can accent that in some way without drawing attention to your efforts, good.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):
Director, Choreographer, Music Director, Set Designer, Costume Designer, Stage Manager, Sarah, Sky, Adelaide.

MY THOUGHTS:
This is pretty much one of the first shows larger companies and schools should consider. It is one of the last shows smaller companies should consider, unless they can invent some highly creative approach that doesn’t sacrifice the unique production values of the show. It can be done in smaller houses with lesser production values, and it’s such a great show that I understand fully the temptation. But without a remarkable and creative breakthrough, I’m not convinced that it should be done in reduced circumstances.