The original 1950 "Guys and Dolls" is considered one of Broadway's classic musicals. It ran for an impressive 1,200 performances, and continues to be the subject of regular revivals around the world. A film version of the musical comedy, starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, was released in 1955 and received four Academy Award nominations. Even fans of the film will have something new to enjoy if they see the live production, since five original songs from the musical were left out of the film, while three new songs were written in.
The Background of 'Guys and Dolls'
"Guys and Dolls" tells the story of small-time gamblers falling in love, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling. The plot borrows elements from several short stories by Damon Runyan, but its primary plot is most significantly attributed to "Blood Pressure" and "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown." Both the stories and resulting musical are known for their use of slang combined with more formal language.
The musical is also widely praised for its careful integration of the book and songs. Unlike other musicals that have the composers write songs for the book, the writers rewrote the book to accommodate Loesser's 14 original songs. However, when Loesser suggested reprising some of the songs in the second act, the director warned Loesser that if he repeated the songs, the director would repeat the jokes.
More About the First Run of 'Guys and Dolls'
The original run of "Guys and Dolls" opened to exceptionally positive reviews. Audiences couldn't get enough of the story featuring a heady combination of gangsters and showgirls and set in New York City. Pulitzer-Prize-winning director George S. Kaufman won a "Best Director" Tony award for "Guys and Dolls" in 1951, and the musical also garnered Tony awards for "Best Musical," "Best Leading Actor," "Best Featured Actress" and "Best Choreography."
"Guys and Dolls" was picked to win the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but the trustees vetoed the selection due to Burrow's insinuated ties to communism. Therefore, no drama prize was awarded that year.
Significant 'Guys and Dolls' Revivals
In 1976, the first revival of "Guys and Dolls" to take place in a Broadway theatre featured an all-black cast and Motown-style music. It was nominated for three Tonys, including "Best Revival." A highly successful 1992 Broadway revival starred Nathan Lane and Peter Gallagher and won four Tony awards. The resulting cast album also won a Grammy award.
In 1982, a London revival of the musical at the National Theatre featured an innovative neon-lit set. The revival went on to win five Laurence Olivier awards and an Evening Standard Award for Best Director. There were also successful London revivals in 1996, 2005 and 2015. Other performances of "Guys and Dolls" have starred Rebel Wilson, Ewan McGregor and Jessica Biel.
More Classical Musical Theatre Events
Now that you've got your "Guys and Dolls" tickets sorted, consider seeing another classic musical. From "West Side Story" to "On the Town," StubHub has a wide variety of Broadway musical revivals from the golden age of musical theatre.
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