Guys and Dolls Swing In Oates Theater

By Austin Tyner

Every year, Collegiate’s thespians and players perform a fall musical. This year, I was fortunate to attend the opening night of the musical, Guys and Dolls. Guys and Dolls is based on a collection of short stories written by Damon Runyon. The book, written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, was published in 1950, and the play first premiered on Broadway that same year. It was popularly adapted into a movie starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in 1955.  

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The original motion picture. Pictured left to right: Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivian Blaine. Image courtesy of Film Forum.

The play takes place in New York in the 1930’s. It follows a man named Nathan Detroit, who is trying to keep his floating craps game going and needs cash to get a place to hold it. Desperate, he decides to place a bet with fellow gambler, Sky Masterson. If Sky can get Sarah Brown, a pretty but uptight missionary to go to Havana, Cuba, with him, Nathan will give him $1000. However, if Sky cannot, then Nathan gets the money he needs to rent a spot for his crap game, much to the dismay of his hopeful fiancée of 14 years, Adelaide.

The streets of New York City as depicted in Oates Theater. 

On October 25th, opening night, I grabbed a friend and headed to Oates Theater to see the show. After paying the rather steep price of $15 for my ticket, I entered the theater and found my seat. Already having seen the movie Guys and Dolls, I was excited to hear the students’ renditions of the songs. The pit orchestra began to play an opening medley of the play’s songs, and then the curtains open to reveal a busy New York City corner, with people of all walks of life hustling and bustling. As the cast broke into their opening number, I was impressed by the amount of energy the cast put into their performance, and how they stayed in sync even with such a large cast. I particularly enjoyed seeing Annie Mahoney (‘19) as Sergeant Sarah Brown. Her high, sweet, singing voice matched her pious character perfectly and complemented the songs she sang. Mahoney’s scandalized and confused reaction to being pursued by Sky Masterson (Chandler Pettus (‘19)) in New York and Cuba was hilarious and entertaining.

Sky and Sarah in Cuba.

As the play progresses, through all the synchronized movement, and complex footwork, the actors and actresses were always on point. Alena Svab, a Collegiate grandparent and mother of Upper School English teacher and Match adviser Vlastik Svab, said that the show was “was nothing short of a professional show on Broadway.”

The game ends up going on in the sewer, as Nathan (Matthew Barbieri  (‘18)) still doesn’t have the money. Sky wins a round of craps and gets a dozen “genuine sinners” into the mission in an attempt to win the heart of Sarah, whom he has developed feelings for after their visit to Cuba. On the way to the mission, Nathan runs into his 14-year fiancée Adelaide (Caroline Campos (‘18)), who is outraged by the dice game. This leads into the duet “Sue Me” between Nathan and Adelaide. In the movie, this duet is my favorite part, because I love how Sinatra croons out his lines so smoothly. I didn’t expect any performance to surpass his. However, Collegiate’s immensely talented thespians proved me wrong with their rendition. I was astounded by Barbieri’s apologetic, yet suave tone, coupled with Campos’ ability to sing while emulating Adelaide’s signature high-pitched New York accent.

Adelaide.

The cast and crew spent ten long weeks preparing for the show, starting in August. They often had late night rehearsals and had to juggle the grueling schedule with academic and other extracurricular commitments. However, they still managed to pull off an amazing performance. Of the process, Nichole Gould (‘18) who played a member of the mission band, said, “We were all stressed and exhausted, but that was when we really came together as a family to share the story.”

The Hot Box girls.

Upper School Associate Director of Student Life Missy Herod, who also saw a previous production of the play at Collegiate years ago, remarked that “the set, the lights and the orchestra were particularly impressive for this performance.”

Overall, I thought the musical was an impressive production, and I offer my congratulations to all cast and crew on a job well done.

The gamblers playing craps.

All photos by Taylor Dabney unless otherwise specified.

About the author

Collegiate '18