Tony Award Winners: 1951 Guys and Dolls

6 Mar

The first time I saw Guys and Dolls was as a high school production, and it’s not really a surprise.  This musical is ideal for high schools.  The music is recognizable, they have a lot of songs that use the chorus, the costumes and theme (40’s gangsters) can be as cheap as you like, nothing requires a huge range, there’s only four main roles, the characters are all very broadly drawn–so there’s no real acting chops, there’s nothing in here that’s beyond mildly naughty, and the whole thing is a hoot.

My only trouble with it is the soundtrack is a bit TOO catchy.  Listen it once and you’ll have Luck Be A Lady, or Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat, or A Bushel and a Peck, or Adelaide’s Lament, or any of the other songs embedded in your brain until you’re ready to throw your internal jukebox into the river.   It’s more like jingle writing (most of the songs are just a couple of minutes long) than musical as art–however it perfectly fits this world of shysters and street preachers to a T.

Also, the whole thing just screams Sinatra.  I know he wasn’t in the play or anything, but half the songs seem to be written with him in mind.   It won’t be the last time for that.

The soundtrack only flags when it gets into the slow sentimental stuff–which is only in a couple of places, and the really stupid song take back your mink (sorry Adelaide).     Really cool, but can wear on you for awhile.   Certainly deserving of the Tony.

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