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Theater preview: 'Guys and Dolls' not all music and silliness

Published July 2, 2013 3:17 pm

Stage • Hale Theater in Orem promises depth in typically funny characters of "Guys and Dolls."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's a classic that many have seen, but few have experienced the actual thing.

"Guys and Dolls" has reached a wide audience because of the 1955 film starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons — a movie that deviated from the original stage version, the cast and directors of the Hale Center Theater Orem's production contend.

Hale's production of the 63-year-old musical opened Thursday and runs through Aug. 10. "Guys and Dolls" is a romantic comedy set in New York City about group of gamblers and a missionary group bent on persuading the men to repent. The characters' values clash as Sky Masterson, a gambler, is bet $1,000 to take Sarah Brown, a missionary, on a date to Havana, Cuba. The bet turns into love.

Songs were added to the movie, and some argue Sinatra was miscast as gambler Nathan Detroit. The Hale Center Theater Orem's production sticks to the original script.

"I've always liked the music of 'Guys and Dolls,' " said Blake Barlow, who plays Sky Masterson. "I think it's some of the better music from the golden age of musicals. It sounds like very simple music, but it's very complicated [and] keeps people interested."

The music alone should draw crowds. "Guys and Dolls" is famous for the songs "Luck Be a Lady" and "Marry the Man Today," but is also famous for other tunes that employ complex musical chords.

"The music really helps to tell the story and give that emotion," said David Smith, music director. "From an audience standpoint, they won't realize it's hard."

The music in some productions of "Guys and Dolls" can slow down character development or the plot. Despite its high entertainment value, the cast worked to act more while singing. Barlow said songs like "I'll Know," which features Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown singing about how they'll know when they find the perfect person to marry, can do little to move the plot forward.

"We tried to keep the acting as strong as possible instead of stopping in the middle of the song," said director David Morgan. "It's a fun show, and it has something for everyone. It's not incredibly deep, but it's funny."

Added Barlow, "Part of the challenge of playing a romantic lead is making it interesting and making it something that will keep an audience's attention. It's being able to be that part of the play in the middle of love songs that, frankly, don't go anywhere. Both characters have a tendency to be a little one-sided."

Morgan especially tried to add more substance to the character Adelaide. Adelaide is engaged to Detroit, and wants him to quit gambling and marry her. She often is portrayed as a lame character without much depth.

"I think this actress has really found the line between playing her more real so you care," Morgan said.

The Hale Center Theater Orem single-cast the main roles in the musical so the performances are consistent throughout. Barlow, a Park City native and 2003 graduate of the University of Utah acting program, said an audience can expect to be interested from start to finish.

"I think you'll see people who you want to root for and you really care about," he said. "It's something where you're going to want the characters to win, and you'll feel for them."

mappelgate@sltrib.com

"Guys and Dolls"

Where • Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem.

When • Now through Aug. 10, Mondays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., with 3 p.m. matinees every Saturday.

Tickets • $16 to $20 ($4 less for children per ticket). To order tickets, visit the Hale Center Theater Orem Box Office, call 801-226-8600 or visit HaleTheater.org.