For its 59th season, the Evergreen Playhouse is focusing on stories that captivated audiences both on stage and on screen.
“Guys and Dolls” will kick off the six-show series, opening Oct. 12. Director Rich Garrett said he loves the show for its old-school Broadway soundtrack, but also that it is a product of a different generation.
“It’s from a time when the biggest problem was not terrorism or who’s going to be elected to the senate or who sexually assaulted who,” Garrett said. “This is a celebration of an era. It’s a show that makes people happy.”
Set in a mythical version of New York in the 1930s, “Guys and Dolls” is the story of a group of gamblers who are depending on Nathan Detroit (portrayed by Nick Hall) to find a location for this week’s ‘oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York.’ Lacking the money to secure his spot, Detroit bets big time gambler Sky Masterson (portrayed by Guito Wingfield) that he can’t get missionary band leader Sarah Brown (portrayed by Michaela Hickey) to go to Havana with him tomorrow. Throw in Detroit’s long-time girlfriend Miss Adelaide (portrayed by Nicole Galyean) who wants Nathan to marry her and also stop his gambling, and police Lt. Brannigan (portrayed by J.C. Hewitt) who always seem to show up at the wrong time and Detroit’s hoping that luck will be on his side.
“It’s a beautiful love story surrounded by a lot of slapstick humor and the music is really fun, everyone will be tapping their feet all along,” said Hickey, Lacey, who said portraying the prudish yet bright-eyed Sarah Brown is a fulfillment of a personal goal. Hickey will also direct “Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” at the Evergreen Playhouse in May.
Playing the role of high roller Sky Masterson, probably best known by audiences as having been portrayed by Marlon Brando, is an honor Guito Wingfield, Salkum. Wingfield recently moved to Lewis County from California, having worked in film acting in New York and California previously. Wingfield said when he auditioned at the Evergreen Playhouse he was unsure about being in a musical, but he said he was glad be overcame his misgivings.
“The comedy is great,” Wingfield said of what he thinks makes “Guys and Dolls” worth attending. “There’s some touching moments but there’s a lot of fun moments for a lot of the characters, even the smaller characters, there’s a lot of humor.”
Even though it is very much a time capsule of an era, cast and crew members said the themes of “Guys and Dolls” are still very topical. Garrett said there are universal themes of caring for another human being as well as women standing up for themselves. Hall of Olympia, who portrays the wise-cracking Nathan Detroit, said audience members will relate to the themes of people transforming into their better selves.
“A lot of people might contend that you shouldn’t have to change yourself just because you’re in love with someone but in this show we see both the men and the women change themselves for the better,” Hall said.
The Evergreen Playhouse’s version of “Guys and Dolls” will be staged by a cast of 20 performing what is typically accomplished by about 40 performers. Garrett said some are new to the Centralia stage while some are veterans. Garrett said he has enjoyed working with every member of this cast and crew, which happens to include some of his own family members. His son Braeden Garrett did the choreography, while his daughter Brynn Walker is the musical director. And his wife, Kris Garrett, stage manages the production.
“But it feels like we’re all family, this cast and crew,” Garrett said.
Obviously “Guys and Dolls” contains elements of gambling and suggestions of adult themes, but contains no curse words or scantily-clad dancing girls as so more modern versions can. Garrett said he strove in this production to keep the show very true to its 1920s and 1930s roots.
“Very family friendly, I would not hesitate to bring young people to this,” Garrett said. “One of the themes in this is if people go back on their word they call them a welcher. That’s probably the worst thing they call each other.”
If You Go …
What: Guys and Dolls
When: Oct. 12-28 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Artist’s Benefit pay-what-you-can performance 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18
Where: Evergreen Playhouse, 226 West Center St., Centralia
Tickets: $15 adults, $12 students/seniors. Advance tickets recommended for best seating selection. Tickets can be purchased at: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=tep