Golden Age musicals like “Guys and Dolls” are like old friends: Our familiarity with them is what we prize, and their presence is always welcome.
That’s how Mark Martino views the hit Broadway show, which he’s directing at Carpenter Center in Long Beach for Musical Theatre West.
“I think audience familiarity with the material is a huge bonus,” Martino said. “It’s like visiting an old friend, because the music is somewhere inside us.”
Martino said that “even if you don’t know the show, you know the music: ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before,’ ‘I’ll Know,’ ‘A Bushel and a Peck,’ ‘If I Were a Bell.’ It’s inside all of us, and always fun to revisit it fresh.”
“Guys and Dolls,” he said, is “the perfect piece of musical theater. It’s got one of the best books ever written for a musical, with some of the most indelible and engaging characters ever created.”
The book of the 1950 musical is by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, who adapted a handful of Damon Runyon’s ’20s and ’30s short stories. Frank Loesser wrote the music and lyrics, creating some of the most famed and beloved show tunes ever.
Martino said the way to make the show work, “to do it justice,” is simply “to do a beautiful production of it.”
He cited two edges he has had in making that happen at 1,074-seat Carpenter Center: His principal cast, and the venue’s large scale.
The show, he said, must be cast perfectly.
“You have to find an Adelaide who’s engaging, funny, heartbreaking and sings great, a Nathan who’s hilarious, a Sky who’s dashing and romantic, and a Sarah who sings like an angel, because that’s how the show was built.
“If you can do that, then you’ve solved the trick,” Martino said, adding he’s been “blessed”…