‘Guys and Dolls’ amazes with classic Broadway

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Photo by Alex Gaines ’25

The cast of “Guys and Dolls” bow on the Nov. 12 evening performance. The show runs for about 3 hours including a 15 minute intermission.

This year’s production of “Guys and Dolls” was completely unlike the many other times the Players have done the show – before the Nov. 12 evening performance of ‘Guys and Dolls’ began, director David Roth took the stage to make a few announcements. He explained that this year marks the 50 year anniversary of the first time Players ever did ‘Guys and Dolls’ in 1972. Out of all the shows Players has put on, ‘Guys and Dolls’ is the one that’s been performed the most.

The other note Roth made was that three actors in the show went home sick with the flu throughout the weekend, meaning that three understudies would go on for this show – including Will McCrea ’26, who went on instead of Henry Carson ’24 as one of the show’s lead roles, Nathan Detroit. McCrea had learned he was going on as Nathan just hours before opening night.

Director David Roth speaks to the audience prior to the Nov. 12 evening show, explaining how multiple cast members were sick with the flu and their understudies would be performing that night. (Photo by Alex Gaines ’25)

And yet, through all the chaos and pressure that surrounded opening night, ‘Guys and Dolls’ continued to be one of the best Players shows I’ve ever seen.

My biggest concern for the show was the plot itself and how it aged, specifically how gender roles are portrayed. Considering the show has been a part of Players for 50 years now, the plot clearly has a different timely feel to it than a show like ‘Descendants’ from last winter. Yes, the plot was inherently sexist in some ways, with the men out late gambling and the women singing at the Hot Box and preaching Christ, but this was to be expected from a classic like ‘Guys and Dolls,’ and the shows highlights overshadow its flaws.

The plot of ‘Guys and Dolls’ is insanely entertaining. Nathan Detroit needs money to buy a location for his craps game, so he bets gambler Sky Masterson $1000 that he can’t take a Christian missionary, Sarah Brown to Havana on a date. Meanwhile, Nathan’s fiance of 14 years, Adelaide, is trying to finally get them married. These intertwining plots create a long, but extremely entertaining 3 hour musical. While the show’s music and plot was captivating throughout, I felt drained and tired by the end of the performance, which was at around 10:30 PM.

And yet, through all the chaos and pressure that surrounded opening night, ‘Guys and Dolls’ continued to be one of the best Players shows I’ve ever seen.”

— Alex Gaines ’25

While ballads such as “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” and “Sue Me” had incredible vocals from the cast, where the show really succeeded was with musical numbers that involved the entire ensemble, such as “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” and “Luck be a Lady.” In fact, possibly my favorite parts of the show were the opening and closing scenes, when the entire cast graced the stage as NYC tourists, gamblers, and locals to set the scene for the show, as overture music played in the background.

Another astounding part of the show was the dancing. Players has always wowed me with their dance numbers, but I was truly mesmerized by the choreography in this show, specifically in the “Havana” dance number, where dancers in pairs performed exciting moves. The scene went on for several minutes, but felt much shorter because of how immersive it was.

As always, the tech crew did an amazing job, especially with the set – a bunch of massive city structures with names of stores and streets that lit up throughout the show. In the center of it all, one section would spin around to reveal a missionary office on the other side. In moments where I wasn’t as interested in the plot of the show, just the set itself kept me looking at the stage.

One part of the show that I’ve rarely seen appreciated is the orchestra pit: a full orchestra made up of mostly Staples music students who had to practice along with the cast after school for many days. Almost all of the music during the show was live, and it added to the classic 1950’s Broadway feel. 

Overall, ‘Guys and Dolls’ succeeded at what Players is always best at – utilizing its student actors, technicians and musicians to their best with a classic musical that’s just as good after 50 years of it on the Players’ stage.