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Caithness News Bulletins June 2005
Guys And Dolls At Thurso High
The musical, written by Frank Loesser in 1950 is based on the stories of Damon Runyon which were set in New York, during the heyday of Mob rule and Prohibition. The plot is 'a story of warm-hearted gamblers, well-meaning salvationists and, in McGregor’s Sky Masterson, a warm-hearted gambler who actually ends up a well-meaning salvationist.'
The theme is the tendency of guys to fall for dolls that want to change them and, in most cases, of dolls to fail to change the guys they fancy. Show stopping tunes include Luck be a Lady; A Bushel and a Peck ; and most exhilarating of all, Sit down, You’re Rocking the Boat!
Many people rank the show as Broadway's very best, surpassing even Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady and West Side Story.
George S Kaufman first staged 'Guys and Dolls' in the 46th Street Theatre, Manhattan in November 1950. The leading performers were making their Broadway debuts, and a dozen writers had a hand in crafting the show's book before the producers brought in radio script writer Abe Burrows, another Broadway neophyte.
Loesser's score, 'wedded a distinctly Jewish idiom to a melodic outpouring of sound alternately rapturous and breathlessly funny'.
For a native New Yorker who had never formally studied music, Loesser was able to give full-throated voice to some formidable characters, among them the gamblers Nathan and Sky and their "dolls", Adelaide and Sarah
The adenoidal Miss Adelaide (Rachel Smith), in particular, takes the notion of the wannabe bride to dizzy comic heights, her first-act "lament" a classic cri de cœur of the sniffles induced by singledom.
"He always looks as innocent as a little baby," Runyon wrote, "but The Sky" - as the story calls him - "is by no means as innocent as he looks." Similarly Adelaide, who may sound all squeaky-voiced in her desire to drag Nathan to the altar but does also work as a Hot Box Girl: beneath those famous "psychosomatic symptoms" is a good time gal.
Guys and Dolls is essentially a comedy hinging on the romance between two reformed gangsters and their molls.
Unlike contemporary shows, South Pacific and The King and I, which depend on an emotional response from the audience, Loesser in Guys and Dolls throws the emotions into neutral . When Big Julie threatens to shoot Nathan Detroit, no-one on stage or off is bothered, one way or other. This can be said to be the first truly modern musical.
'Guys and Dolls' broke the mould of prescriptive theatre and created a realm in which the audience is aware of its part in the drama. If stage musicals are currently playing to full houses, and a new generation of admirers, then it bodes well for Thurso High School and for the local community that such a large number of young actors and actresses are willing to work on the production of a theatrical classic. This is a show not to be missed.
Running on 21st, 22nd, 24th and 25th June, tickets priced at £5 and £4 are available from MacBeath’s Jewellers, Traill Street Thurso.