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Guys and Dolls

National Theatre Playbill

A musical fable of Broadway in two acts based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon. Book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling: Music & Lyrics by Frank Loesser

46th Street Theatre, New York 24 November 1950 (1194 perfs)
London Coliseum, 28th May 1953
National Theatre, London - 9 March 1982

A film version was produced by Samuel Goldwyn in 1955 with Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Jean Simmons and Marlon Brando.


Act I

Amidst the hurly-burly of Broadway, Sarah Brown and her gallant band from the Save-A-Soul Mission endeavour to recruit sinners. Nathan Detroit and the gambling fraternity are more concerned with finding a place for their illegal floating crap game and Adelaide, Nathan's long-time fiancée, is preoccupied with trying to get him to the altar.

Sky Masterson saunters into town and gets suckered into a bet with Nathan that he can take any doll he likes to Havana. Nathan names Sarah Brown, and, undaunted, Sky presents himself at the Mission as a sinner. When this doesn't work, he guarantees her a dozen sinners in return for having dinner with him - in Havana. Sarah's response is he's not her type of guy ("I'll Know").

At The Hot Box night club where Adelaide stars ("Bushel and a Peck"), Nathan promise; her he will reform, Meanwhile, his side-kicks Benny and Nicely-Nicely complain she's taking his mind off his work ("Guys and Dolls"). The arrival of General Cartwright, intent on closing the Mission through lack of support, galvanises Sarah into accepting Sky's invitation. Nathan, still hoping to win his bet and the thousand bucks he needs to set up the game, is having trouble with the gambling fraternity - Big Jule, Harry the Horse and Rusty Charlie, to name but a few - who are getting increasingly restless. The appearance among them of Lt. Brannigan spells trouble, but the day is saved when they tell him they're celebrating Nathan's and Adelaide's elopement.

In Havana, Sarah becomes decidedly more friendly after drinking several of the local 'milkshakes' and causes a riot at El Cafe Cubano when she objects to Sky dancing with another girl ("If I Were A Bell"). He is shamed into telling her about the bet and takes her back to New 'fork where they arrive just before dawn -sober, and in love ("I've Never Been In Love Before"). Their idyllic moment is soon shattered; as Arvide -Sarah's grandfather and the Mission Band return wearily from all-night canvassing, the sound of a police siren sends the gamblers scuttling out of the Mission, where Nathan had finally found a place for the game. 

Act II

Adelaide entertains The Hot Box customers ("Take Back Your Mink"), still blissfully believing she is about to become Mrs Nathan Detroit. Arvide consoles Sarah as the deadline for closing the Mission approaches and tries to put in a good word for Sky, who is still determined to honour his pledge. He follows the gamblers - and the game - into the sewer and bets each of them a thousand dollars against their souls on the roll of the dice ("Luck Be a Lady"). When he wins, they are obliged to attend the meeting at the Mission where - after some initial reluctance - they join Nicely-Nicely in giving testimony ("Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat"). Though Lt. Brannigan, hot on their heels, remains unconvinced, General Cartwright is impressed.

When Sarah learns that Sky told Nathan he had lost the bet and did not take her to Havana, she realises he can't be all bad. She and Adelaide commiserate with each other on the problems of getting their guys to change their ways and decide the answer is to marry them first, which they do, and live happily ever after.



Reed 1: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Sax, Clarinet
Reed 2: Flute, Alto Sax, Clarinet
Reed 3: Oboe, Cor Anglais, Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Reed 4: Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Reed 5: Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet
Horn, 3 Trumpets, Trombone
4 Violins, Cello, Bass

Scenes and Settings

2 acts, 17 Scenes, 7 full stage sets (including 2 drops), 1 partial stage set, 4 scene drops.



Period and Costumes

When gangsters were in fashion: double-breasted suits (pin stripes, wide lapels, etc.), wide ties, Salvation Army uniforms, Cuban calypso outfits, red checkered daisy halter and bikini "Bushel and Peck" costumes. "Take Back Your Mink" strip costumes, police uniforms, various New York fashions of times (rehearsal clothes, tourists, blindmen, sight-seeing tour salesman, etc.).


Choreographed opening: "The Beat of Times Square," nightclub girly numbers, jazz calypso, light chorus strip, "Crap Shooters' Ballet," production finale.

Lighting and Special Effects

Some dramatic lighting required, cross-fades, lighted flyingdown-to-Cuba sign, lights of Times Square on set, smoke in El Café Cubano (optional).

Musical Numbers:

  1. Adelaide's Lament
  2. A Bushel and a Peck
  3. Crap Shooters' Ballet
  4. Follow the Fold
  5. Fugue for Tinhorns
  6. Guys and Dolls
  7. Havana Dance
  8. If I Were a Bell
  9. I'll Know
  10. I've Never Been in Love Before
  11. Luck Be a Lady
  12. Marry the Man Today
  13. More I Cannot Wish You
  14. My Time of Day
  15. The Oldest Established Crap Game in the World
  16. Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat
  17. Sue Me
  18. Take Back Your Mink


  National Theatre, London Cast Recording. Click on picture to buy.

  Broadway Cast Recording - click on picture to buy

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