‘Guys and Dolls’ transports audience to theatre’s golden age

Created and produced in the golden age of American theatre, “Guys and Dolls” is a musical comedy reminiscent of a carefree and happy way of life after World War II. It features catchy performances that make it hard for audiences not to get caught up in the optimism of the times. On Wednesday night, the production opened for a full house at the University of Miami’s Ring Theatre and delivered a timeless performance with a cast of vibrant characters and excellent music.

“Guys and Dolls” premiered on Broadway in 1950, featuring music by Frank Loesser. It is a classic musical that shows that, while life was good back then, things were not simpler in the past, especially when it comes to love. Throughout the performance, the theme is clear: love is a gamble and an adventure, but eventually everyone ends up where they are meant to be.

Set in New York City, “Guys and Dolls” follows the lives of two betting men and two beautiful women on their journey of taking chances and falling in love. The opening of the play finds Nathan Detroit, played by sophomore Matt Paris, out of luck. He needs a place to host an illegal crap game but does not have the money to rent one. To get the funds, he makes a bet with the charismatic and persuasive Sky Masterson, played by senior Akea Kahikina, who is a man known to bet on anything. The bet they make: that Sky must take a doll out to dinner in Havana, Cuba.

The bet ends in Nathan choosing his doll to be none other than “Sergeant” Sarah Brown, played by senior Samantha Dockser. Sarah is on a save-a-soul mission dedicated to converting sinners. While Sky attempts to woo and impress Sarah, Nathan tries to calm his fiance, Adelaide, who continually begs him to finally marry her after being together for 14 years. Adelaide is both sexy and sad; every colorful and flamboyant performance in musical numbers “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Take Back Your Mink” are followed by Adelaide’s complaints that she is always sick due to anxiety from wondering if she will ever get married.

Sarah has her love life planned out for herself – until Sky walks through the door of the mission, that is. As the saying goes, opposites attract, and the chemistry between the two characters is dynamic in their duet “I’ll Know” as well as during their first kiss. In order to keep the mission from being shut down, Sarah agrees to go to Havana with Sky if he will bring her a dozen sinners. In Havana, Sarah learns to let loose and she and Sky fall in love.

Both Adelaide and Sarah long for a more domestic life and desire to be loved and married, but the men they fall in love with gambling with both hearts and money. While Sky is romancing Sarah in Havana, Nathan is forced to have his crap game in the sewer, where the odds continue to be against him. While Adelaide and Sarah are the emotional centers of the play, it is the band of men that brings out the more comedic elements, such as in the performances “The Crapshooter’s Dance” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”

The true romantic of the play, however, is the catalyst for all its events: Sky Masterson. Unlike Nathan, who even delivers a passionate declaration of his love in “Sue Me,” his actions never make Adelaide feel loved. On the other hand, Sky keeps his promise to Sarah and proves that while words are powerful, it’s the actions that speak louder.

Love is never easy, but ultimately Adelaide and Sarah decide to roll their own dice and take a chance on love. In “Marry the Man Today,” they resolve to love their men today and reform them tomorrow. By the end of the play, it’s time for the wedding bells to toll and everyone ends up right where they are meant to be.

If You Go:

What: Guys and Dolls

When:  April 13-23 at 8 p.m.

Where: Jerry Herman Ring Theatre

Cost: $25 regular admission, $10 student tickets and free with Cane Card on Totally Tuesday.

More Information: Visit www.as.miami.edu/ringtheatre.