'Guys and Dolls' are lining up to see ASU’s latest production

Get dolled up for a night with the guys as the Lyric Opera Theatre presents 'Guys and Dolls' Nov. 17-20

What do men and Barbies have in common other than usually having four limbs, one torso, two eyes and a nose? Nothing much, besides the fact that both are represented in the title of ASU’s most recent student-led musical production.

Frank Losser’s “Guys and Dolls” arrives at the Lyric Opera Theatre Nov. 17-20 at the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre to tell the tale of Damon Runyon’s mythological New York City where gamblers, evangelists and show girls all come together.

Directed by ASU faculty member Toby Yatso, with music direction and choreography by Miles Plant and Molly Lajoie respectively, the musical comedy focuses on a group of gamblers who are trying to find a place for a game, while the girls have different ideas in mind. The show was written by Losser in 1950 and is a wildly popular musical to this day. One of the songs, "Fugue for Tinhorns," was recently parodied by Matthew Broderick and James Corden in time for the holiday season on "The Late Late Show with James Corden" yesterday evening. 

Brynn Lewallen, a graduate student studying music and musical theater, plays Adelaide, one of the leads in the show. When asked to describe the show in her own words she said that Yatso describes the musical as, “a postcard to Broadway.”

“It’s a musical retelling of New York City and everything is a little bit larger-than-life,” Lewallen said. “Everything is a little bit more colorful. For example, in our production, the set is very cartoonish, like it's really bright colors.”

From the variety of brightly-colored costumes to the way they deliver their faster, funnier, larger-than–life lines, she said this way of storytelling allows the audience to look at different ideas than you could if it were presented in a more understated way.

“It’s like one step toward magical reality from realism,” Lewallen said.

Plant, who along with being music director is also the musical conductor for the show and a graduate student studying musical theater and opera performance, said that this musical is an integrated one where the director, music director and choreographer come together to create a vision for the show that stays loyal to the source material, but in a unique way.

“(We) come up with a cohesive project that reflects what was originally intended, but has our creative author’s own voice,” Plant said.

For his role in the production, Plant went through the many different versions of the show and thought about all the different ideas, noting what he did and did not like and synthesizing that into the production.

A moment that Plant said he enjoyed working on the most was one of the more famous songs in the second act.

“There’s a very famous song called, ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ in the second act,” he said. “(Yatso) said, ‘I want a different ending to ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ that involves the general, that would give her more story arc and that would influence the entire group around her. I wrote an extension borrowed from different versions of (the song), and I have created a new ending to that song.”

Plant said he had to discuss his changes with Yatso, compose, orchestrate and then rehearse the piece with both the pit and cast.

“It’s a strenuous but fulfilling process when you get it all put together,” he said. “That’s the beauty to musical theater or theater in any capacity, that it is truly a collaborative art form. You can’t do it alone.”

Reflecting on her collaboration over the course of the production of “Guys and Dolls,” Lewallen said that the wonderful and quality cast and crew lead to many memorable moments and one in particular she would always remember.

“There’s one scene — the first time I come on stage actually — and Adelaide brings Nathan an anniversary present,” she said. “There is a box, and inside the box is a belt and a card. So I started writing different things on the card for Adam to read … But the first day he looked at the card and he lost his lines, so he just read out loud what I wrote which was, ‘Did you poop today?’ And everybody just lost it. I think that encapsulates our whole production so well.”

Lane Northcutt, a graduate student studying musical theater, plays another of the leads in the show, Sky Masterson, and said that one of the great things about the production was the friendly atmosphere created by the cast.

“The cast (members) are all friends,” Northcutt said. “My favorite thing about this show is that I get to do it with my best friends.”

Northcutt said he hopes the reliability of these characters is something that the audience connects with.

“I hope that they can see these characters as themselves,” Northcutt said. “They can empathize and sympathize with these characters. They’ll go home thinking something new.”

Tickets to “Guys and Dolls” are between $8-$21 and can be purchased here.

For more information about the show click here.

Reach the reporter at balnero13@gmail.com or follow @BaldnerOwen on Twitter.

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