Luck be a lady tonight at the Port Tobacco Players Theater, as a gambler risks everything on one last roll of the dice for love in the classic romantic musical comedy “Guys and Dolls.”
“Guys and Dolls” is PTP’s last performance of its 70th season. Opening tonight, it starts at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays until Aug. 4 at 508 Charles St. in La Plata. Tickets are $18 each for general admission and $15 for seniors, students and members of the military.
“Guys and Dolls” is directed and choreographed by PTP veteran Benjamin Simpson, director of PTP’s “Calendar Girls,” “Sister Act,” “Godspell” and “The Sound of Music,” among other credits.
“We really needed a blockbuster, well-known musical to end the season, and so I stepped up to do this one,” Simpson said. “I love this show. It’s a classic for a reason. It’s been around for almost as long as Port Tobacco Players have been around. There’s a reason why the classics are the classics, and why we do them, and why people come to see them.”
“Guys and Dolls” originally premiered on Broadway in 1950 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It was adapted for film in 1955, starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.
Based on the short stories of Damon Runyon about the New York underworld in the 1920s and 1930s, “Guys and Dolls” features Nathan Detroit, played by Kyle Rappe in the PTP production, who makes money setting up illegal crap games in various locations.
“He’s a well-meaning gangster,” Rappe said. “He wants to do right by [his fiance] Adelaide, but the only thing he knows is the crap game.”
Nathan’s long-time fiance, nightclub singer Adelaide, played by Tara Waters, wants him to give up the gambling scene and marry her, something he’s promised to do … someday.
“Adelaide is a quintessential ditzy blonde, but with a good heart,” Waters said. “She’s just one of those dream roles for me, she’s so much fun [to play]. All of her lines are one-liners. I’ve had a blast playing her.”
The heat is on Nathan, and he can’t find anywhere that will host his crap game except for Biltmore Garage, but the owner wants $1,000. To get the money, he goes to Sky Masterson, a wealthy out-of-town gambler who’ll bet on anything, played by Austin Kuhn.
“He is kind of a softie. He doesn’t portray himself that way, or at least, he doesn’t try to,” Kuhn said. “He’s very charismatic. There’s always something he’s going after. He’s always got an objective, and he does anything he can to get to that objective, including, the girl, of course.”
Nathan gets Sky to bet $1,000 that he can get any woman Nathan picks to go out with him on a date to Havana, Cuba. Nathan picks Sgt. Sarah Brown of the Save a Soul mission, which seeks to turn New York sinners away from gambling and other vices and toward God. Sarah, played by Kaitlin Harbin, is initially distrustful of Sky, but when her mission is in danger of being shut down due to lack of attendance, Sky offers to bring her a dozen sinners.
“Sarah is very independent, and I think she’s lived the same life for a long time and she’s able to break free, she has a little bit of a wild side to her, and Sky’s able to bring that out in her,” Harbin said. “I like the fact that she has a really big change in the show. From the beginning, we see a really sweet girl, who is committed to the mission, and by the end, we really see another side of her, so I think that’s a lot of fun.”
To see how it all turns out, well, you’ll have to see the play.
“It is a heartfelt, feel-good, toe-tapping, singalong musical that will have you jumping up, singing the song, wanting to dance with the cast onstage, get a few laughs and a few tear-jerky moments,” Simpson said.
The 71st PTP season begins Sept. 20 with Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”