Girls, gangsters and gambling will come to the IU Theatre this weekend in its newest production, “Guys and Dolls.”
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre, with additional shows at 7:30 p.m. April 22-26 and at 2 p.m. April 26. Tickets start at $15 for students and $25 for general admission.
“Guys and Dolls” follows four main characters through their complicated romantic relationships. Sophomore Joey Birchler plays gambler Sky Masterson, a suave character who never gave time to serious relationships with women.
His friend, Nathan Detroit, is played by junior Markus McClain. Nathan bets Sky that he won’t be able to convince missionary Sarah Brown to go out with him.
Sky takes the bet and pursues Sarah. The two eventually fall in love, and their differences change each other for the better.
At the same time, Nathan has been engaged to Miss Adelaide for 14 years, and she is trying to convince him to get married. However, Nathan repeatedly refuses because he’s not ready.
“It’s about two different styles of relationships,” McClain said. “All Adelaide wants is to get married, but Nathan isn’t ready. This contrasts with the growth and budding relationship of Sky and Sarah.”
The musical’s themes contribute to the popularity of the production.
“I think it’s one of the best musicals ever written,” Director Lee Cromwell said. “I think there’s something universal about this story, about these larger-than-life figures being who they are and going after what they want, not apologizing for living.”
Despite the musical being set in the 1950s, McClain said the audience will be surprised by how much they can relate to the characters.
For the actors, portraying and connecting to those characters was one of the hardest parts of preparation.
Birchler struggled gaining the confidence Sky has in the musical.
He said embodying the persona of someone who always feels like he’s the smartest guy in the room was a huge challenge.
“It’s a mental thing as well as a physical thing,” Birchler said. “It’s about being smooth in your actions.”
Junior Meghan Goodman, who plays Sarah, found understanding the character’s transformation her biggest challenge.
“She’s exposed to so much at once that she never imagined would happen to her,” Goodman said. “I had to find that progression throughout the show.”
McClain also had to learn the dynamics of his character, specifically with the relationship Nathan has with Adelaide.
“It’s a huge contrast of being in love and having a soulmate and the rough waters you go through in a relationship,” McClain said.
Overcoming the challenges and putting the show together culminate in the
“I’m really looking forward to the actors’ experience of sharing this with an audience,” Cromwell said. “I think they’re really hungry for it.”
McClain said this type of show deserves an audience because of the energy and humor that requires an audience’s responses.
“Because the actors that are doing this production are singing, dancing, acting, throwing themselves literally around the stage with such passion and dedication, it is just a joy to see,” Cromwell said. “I think there’s something really exciting about being in the same room when people are diving off of a cliff, metaphorically.”