Timeless tunes meet timely re-working in Perseverance Theatre’s latest offering.
The newest production in the theater’s 40th season is the classic musical “Guys and Dolls,”and its director Shona Osterhout said while tunes from the almost 70-year-old play endure, care was taken to improve the characterization of show’s female characters.
Osterhout said characters such as Sarah Brown played by Allison Holtkamp and Adelaide played by Ericka Lee are imbued with more agency and depth in Perseverance Theatre’s “Guys and Dolls.”
“You make the women stronger, meaning they have choices,” Osterhout said. “We have actors like Ericka Lee and Allison Holtkamp that are incredible actors in our town. My job is easy in that regard.”
“Also, the crapshooters aren’t just guys,” she added. “The good people are both male and female, and the bad people are both male and female.”
“Guys and Dolls,” which opened Friday, tells stories of gangsters, gamblers and unlikely love. It premiered on Broadway in 1950, and it ran for 1,200 performances. It was later adapted to a movie starring Marlon Brando.
Osterhout said while it’s impossible to ignore the humor woven throughout “Guys and Dolls,” the gangsters and gamblers at the heart of the show are being portrayed with slightly more grit and nuance.
“She’s kind of shied away from the cartoon-y moments,” said Enrique Bravo, who plays New York hustler Sky Masterson.
Osterhout said the characters are scofflaws feeding gambling addictions. Even if the text of the show is largely comedic, she said it is ultimately based on the rough-and-tumble writing of Damon Runyon.
“She has been good about making us aware of that aspect,” Bravo said.
Adding to that depth is history shared among cast members, music director Rob Cohen and choreographer Ricci Adan, Bravo said.
Many of the folks involved in “Guys and Dolls” helped bring “Oklahoma” and “Chicago” to Perseverance Theatre’s stage, and Bravo said that shared rapport goes a long way.
“We already kind of know each other,” Bravo said. “That helps create better art because you’re not starting from ground zero.”
Bravo said before this production of “Guys and Dolls” he had forgotten how many out-and-out classics are part of the show beyond the obvious “Guys and Dolls” and “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.”
“I feel like when we go through the music, every song is great,” Bravo said.
The music for the songs comes courtesy of a live band under the direction of Rob Cohen, and during rehearsals the music was brassy and boisterous without being overwhelming.
“We’re taking a bit more of a cabaret-style feel to the whole production,” Osterhout said. “It’s just a little different in that way.”
Another thing that makes this take on “Guys and Dolls” stand out is a nearly all-Alaskan cast.
Tom Robenholt, the one exception, only recently moved to New York, lived in the state for more than a decade and acted in past Perseverance Theatre shows.
Osterhout said showcasing local talent exemplifies what makes Perseverance Theatre, and its production of “Guys and Dolls” unique.
“That’s what this theater is all about,” she said.
Know & Go
What: “Guys and Dolls”
When: The play runs March 15-April 14. Shows are Thursday-Sunday. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 4 p.m. Sundays. There are additional 7:30 p.m. shows on Wednesdays on April 3 and 10.
Where: Perseverance Theatre 914 3rd St.
Admission: Tickets cost $37-$49 for adults, $32-$44 for seniors and military and $20-$32 for students. Seats can be reserved at ptalaska.com or by calling 463-8497). March 17 and March 21 performances are pay as you can. April 3’s performance is half off.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.