Musical comedy brings Broadway to Spa City
With Hot Springs’ colorful past, filled with gangsters, gamblers and good-time girls, the town is perfect to host stagings of the hit musical comedy “Guys and Dolls.” And with the commitment to excellence held by the producing body, The Muses Creative Artistry Project, this popular show is bound to please audience members.
Performances will be 6 p.m. June 13 and 3 p.m. June 14 in the Muses Cultural Arts Center, 428 Orange St. Artistic director Deleen Davidson said the play will take place in two acts, with an intermission, and is suitable for all ages.
The story is set in New York on Broadway and is based around the culture of the time period, around the 1930s and 40s. Three groups, each with its own identity, interact throughout the musical — the gambling “guys,” the burlesque dancing “dolls” and the Save-A-Soul Mission workers.
Principal roles will be played by Stacey Murdock, as crap game runner Nathan Detroit; Scott Lindroth, as high roller Sky Masterson; Davidson, as mission leader Sarah Brown; and Jeanne Bennett, as star doll Miss Adelaide.
The story tells of the love between Detroit and Adelaide, who have been engaged for 14 years. He must make money with his craps game to pay for for their wedding. Then, moneybags Masterson comes to town and ends up making a bet that he can take any doll around on a trip to Havana, Cuba.
Davidson said what unfolds is a funny, silly, clever, sweet and interesting “story about the heart” with catchy music and spectacular dancing.
Well-known songs including “Luck Be a Lady,” made famous by Frank Sinatra, “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “A Bushel and a Peck.”
The cast will be backed by trumpeter Bobby Campo, coming from New Orleans, trombonist Steve Suter, drummer Patrick Lindsey and pianist Gloria Kim, of New York.
“Having that level of musicianship in the band is going to drive those singers and lift the whole thing,” Davidson said.
She said she’s assembled a rich secondary cast, too, including locals Ken Goodman, who will play Benny Southstreet, and William Stiebing, as Arvide Abernathy.
There will be 24 performers altogether, making it one of the largest Muses productions and its first full Broadway show.
“It’s a stellar cast,” Davidson said. “Each performer is so individually gifted and when you put that chemistry together, it’s just magical.”
Bennett, who lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., is no stranger to the stage and has been in three productions of this musical before, though this will be her first time performing at the center. In addition to portraying Adelaide, she will also serve as stage director.
She talked about making the center’s smaller stage effective for this production and said the set will be kept to a minimum and the house will also be used, with performers going offstage and traveling through the audience. Davidson said the center’s space and acoustics make it easy to get sound out and there’s “a built-in intimacy.”
The show will also mark the two-year anniversary of the Muses performing in their own center. The directors feel serving a period-in- spired cocktail at showtime will both help celebrate that and create a night-club ambiance. Bennett said the drink will likely have “a little bit of a Hot Springs twist.”
Bennett is excited about the production and said, “It’s just such a great show and so fun. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Most rehearsal schedules for shows like this are six to eight weeks or longer. This group will only rehearse together for six days, but with the professional level of those involved, Davidson knows everyone has been working separately on their own pieces and when the cast comes together, they will be fully prepared.
“The show is the vehicle, but the strength, talent, training and the dedication of the individual performers is what we rely on to make it valuable,” Davidson said.
Muses “vision keeper” Toni Spears said they all hope that when the audience sees the professionalism, “they are not only inspired by the performance, but are inspired to seek out excellence in their own lives.”