Bringing Out the Joy in Milwaukee Rep's 'Guys and Dolls'

Sep 21, 2017

Whether it’s “Luck Be a Lady Tonight”, “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck”, or “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” you probably know at least one song from the score of Frank Loesser’s 1950 show Guys and Dolls, the iconic American musical about a bunch of lovable gamblers and the women who love them. 

The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls opens the company’s 2017-2018 season this week. Mark Clements is the artistic director, Stephen Mear is the choreographer, and Nicholas Rodriguez stars as Sky Masterson. And for Clements it was a perfect choice for the Rep's 8th musical.

"The book and the music are equally good," he explains. "And that's really how musicals have any longevity, how they survive. The book has to be as good as the music, ultimately."

He says that this version had a specific intent with the musical's raw material. 

"We wanted to make sure that the characters were -- even if the strokes were broad, comedically -- that they were rooted in truth, and also that we cared about everybody ultimately," he says. "That's what we were shooting for."

Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents Guys and Dolls in the Quadracci Powerhouse from September 19 to October 29, 2017.
Credit Michael Brosilow

"It's just a joyous show," he continues. "[In the rehearsals], we watch a number, we'll do a scene, and everybody around the room is smiling. I think the audience...we, as a nation, need that right now."

The production is in previews this week and opens on Saturday.