The theater department will present its 40th Homecoming Scholarship Musical, a production of Manhattan native Damon Runyon’s “Guys and Dolls,” Oct. 11-14. This year’s show is the third homecoming production of “Guys and Dolls” – the first was in 1978 and the second was in 1994.
“The process in deciding the homecoming musical involves looking at our production history and what our students can do,” said Jim Bartruff, director and professor of communication and theatre. “We felt like this was the best choice for this slot.”
Marah Melvin, senior theater major who plays Miss Adelaide, said the previous productions of the show both had good turnouts.
“I like the fact that we are revisiting a well-known American musical that’s modern enough for most people to enjoy,” Melvin said. “It’s a throwback that a lot of people know.”
Bartruff said they convinced President Michael Shonrock to play a brief role in the production. Shonrock appears in a scene where Nathan Detroit, played by senior theater major and Bulletin distribution manager Noah Mefford, has a phone conversation about the illegal craps game he trying to put together – and keep it a secret from Lt. Brannigan, played by senior theater major Michael Stauffer.
“It’s really cool that he’s (Shonrock) part of it, and it’s good to get support of the faculty, even if they’re not part of the department,” said Mike Koetkemeyer, senior theater major and stage manager.
The homecoming casino night theme is tied to the gambling-related themes in “Guys and Dolls,” said Nancy Pontius, professor of theater and set designer.
Cast members said they have been looking forward the opportunity to perform the American classic since it was announced by theater department last spring.
“I actually wasn’t completely familiar with this particular musical, except a few songs,” said Jamarious Wicker, junior theater major who plays Raoul, “but I really got into it. It just got into my system and really grew on me quickly.”
Koetkemeyer said that he couldn’t do his job without the support of the cast and crew and that he appreciates their focus and respect for each other.
“Rehearsals have flowed together so well,” Wicker said. “There’s been no drama or anxiety. We have a week before dress rehearsals start and you can already see the cast is really colorful and has a lot of chemistry. This is going to be a really great show.”
Melvin said it’s been a great experience so far, and she can’t wait to share it with the audience.
“Guys and Dolls” will open at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 in Albert Taylor Hall. There will also be showings at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and 13, and a matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 14.