& Lyrics: Frank Loesser
Book: Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows
Although Guys and Dolls eventually became the fifth
longest-running Broadway musical of the Fifties, it was a long
and difficult road getting it to the stage at all. Producers
Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin originally envisioned the musical
as a serious romantic story along the lines of South Pacific.
After hiring composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, they eventually
went through 11 librettists before finally deciding to make the
project a comedy and settling on Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows,
a radio and television writer with no theatrical experience.
Based on Damon Runyon's short story "The Idyll of Miss
Sarah Brown," Guys and Dolls revolves around Nathan
Detroit, the organizer of the oldest established permanent floating
crap game in New York, who bets fellow gambler Sky Masterson
that he can't make the next girl he sees fall in love with him.
The next girl he sees happens to be Miss Sarah Brown, a pure-at-heart
Salvation Army-type reformer, and the stage is set for an hilarious
evening of complications.
Guys and Dolls opened at the 46th Street Theatre on
November 24, 1950 and enjoyed a run of 1,200 performances. The
original cast included Robert Alda, Vivian Blaine, Sam Levene
and Isabel Bigley. The 1955 film version featured Marlon Brando,
Vivian Blaine, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons. In 1976, a Broadway
revival was staged with an all-black cast.
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