Megan Konyndyk / THE EAGLE
Featuring comedy, drama, missionaries, showgirls and gamblers, the AU Department of Performing Arts’ production of “Guys and Dolls” truly has something for everyone.
The musical, which director and AU Professor Karl Kippola described as a “joyous celebration,” will begin its two-week run when it premieres Oct. 18 at the Greenberg Theater.
“It’s been called the perfect musical comedy,” Kippola said of the show, which first made its Broadway debut in November 1950. “This is the American musical at its best.”
Set in 1950s era New York, “Guys and Dolls” follows gamblers Sky Masterson, Nathan Detroit, Nathan’s fiancée Adelaide and Sergeant Sarah Brown, the missionary seeking to save their souls.
The musical boasts such toe-tapping Broadway standards as “Luck Be a Lady,” “Bushel and a Peck,” and the rollicking show-stopper “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
In addition to its immensely popular score, audiences have connected with the musical’s story for more than six decades.
As the title implies, “Guys and Dolls” explores the frustrations as well as the joy often found in the relationships between men and women. Kippola added that the musical also serves as a subtle social critique on suburban life.
AU’s production will feature one of the largest casts Kippola has worked with at American, including doubled-casted parts for the lead female roles of Adelaide and Sarah, where the two actresses will share the role, but perform during different shows.
Although competition among the actresses could have been a concern, Kippola said that all four students handled the double casting maturely, supporting each other and embracing the challenge of finding different interpretations of their characters.
Of her over-the-top alter ego Adelaide, College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Roxy Reynolds said she sought to find the more down-to-earth side of the lamenting showgirl.
“Adelaide is such a big character, so it’s really hard to find something to ground her in,” Reynolds said. “But I tend to approach it by finding something more human to connect with.”
Reynolds said she appreciated the “little sister” relationship she shared with SOC senior Haely Jardas, who was also cast in the same role.
“We’ve created a nice sense of community and a family atmosphere,” Kippola said. “Working with this cast has been a joyful and harmonious process.”
Reynolds hopes the positive dynamic between cast members will translate to audience members.
“I think people will walk out of the theater in a good mood,” Reynolds said. In addition to the show’s humor and infectious score, “it’s also a very touching story that people will really be able to connect with and become invested in,” she said.