Take a step back in time with “Guys and Dolls,” set to be performed at the Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, Oct. 28 through Nov. 23.
The show is one that Signature Productions did in 1997. Signature decided to bring it back because audiences asked for it.
“Fifteen years ago, we weren’t as well known as we are now, so lots of people didn’t see it, and they asked for it,” said Karl Larsen, Signature president and founder.
When the call goes out for auditions, the response can vary, he said.
“It’s getting harder and harder to get people, and the reason is that there are lots and lots of things going on now that never were before,” Larsen said. “It’s at the end of Super Summer Theatre, so the people who did two shows during the summer are worn out. And then you’ve got people who were doing (shows in) the smaller theaters around town, so it’s getting harder to get people. We’re known for doing musicals, so those who do musicals wait for us to (put out the call).”
The storyline follows the “Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York,” whose organizer needs $1,000 to secure a place to conduct its business. The Salvation Army Mission unwittingly serves up the location. Miss Sarah Brown is a mission doll who falls for gambler Sky Masterson. The sneaky Nathan Detroit is reeled in by the romantic Miss Adelaide. The musical is set in the 1940s, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. It’s based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon (book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows) and offers a lighthearted look at a throwback era.
In the film, Frank Sinatra played Nathan Detroit. Will audiences have that connection in their mind?
“The movie’s so old, and there are so many people who have never seen the movie, but we don’t try to match the movie at all for the stage play,” Larsen said. “We just do it the way we do it. The cast was casted this time to be more realistic as far as people. Instead of having people who are 18 or 19, we’ve got 40-year-olds doing the part because that’s what it would have been in the movie.”
He said the show was clean, with nothing obnoxious.
In 1997, Larsen played the part of Nicely Nicely, who sings “Sit Down, Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” This time around, Keith Dobson plays that part. Larsen can be seen when he steps on stage as Big Jule, the gambler from Chicago who comes to play dice in New York.
Other cast members are James Claflin as Nathan Detroit, Steve McMillan as Sky Masterson, Anita Bean as Miss Adelaide and Audrey Hansen as Sarah Brown.
Kris Welte has been Signature Productions’ director of marketing for 18 years. When she first heard that Signature would be doing “Guys and Dolls” again, Welte said she was “real excited. It’s a great musical, and we’ve had a lot of people request it. Las Vegas loves musicals … it’s one of those shows that has a great story, and people love it.”
Filling the seats is the only way Signature can keep putting on shows, as ticket sales cover the costs. Larsen rattled off a number of high-ticket items: Wardrobe runs about $15,000 and royalties about the same; the venue costs about $20,000; the set runs about $13,000; and music runs $4,000 to $5,000.
“It adds up,” Larsen said. “But they’re not going to see a more professionally done show than what we do.”
“Guys and Dolls” will use stock costumes and had to create only a couple of costumes to fit director Doug Baker’s vision, so that saved the company from renting them. The show has to have a monthlong run in order to make enough money, Larsen said. If there are any funds left over, they get pumped into the next show. Signature generally does two shows a year.
“We’re not in this business to make money,” Larsen said. “Nobody gets paid — the board, the actors, nobody.”
He said the company wouldn’t keep doing shows if it wasn’t fun.
“Guys and Dolls” has a notable history. The play won a Tony Award for best musical and another one for best choreography.
Performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees set for Nov. 9 and 16. A captioned night for the deaf and hard of hearing is slated for 7:30 p.m. Nov 20.
Preview tickets for 7:30 p.m. shows Oct. 28, 30 and 31 are $25 for adults, seniors and students and $20 for children 11 or younger. Matinee and regular evening performance tickets are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors 60 or older and students 13 or older and $20 for children 3 to 12.
Tickets are on sale at signatureproductions.net. Click on “Tickets.” Groups of 20 or more can call 702-878-7529.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.