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Seeing Illinois State’s Guys and Dolls is no gamble

Artwork from production poster depicting a city landscape (New York) with a man's jacket and tie and woman's dress collar and pearls

Guys and Dolls runs February 28 and March 3-6 at 7:30 p.m. and February 29 and March 1 at 2 p.m.

Illinois State University is “Rockin’ the Boat” this spring as the School of Music and the School of Theatre and Dance present the beloved musical Guys and Dolls by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows with unforgettable music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.

The classic musical is famous for its toe-tapping tunes and jazzy dance numbers, including Nicely-Nicely Johnson’s well-loved “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” Jimmy Chrismon, director and School of Theatre and Dance faculty member, said that the musical has stood the test of time.

“The characters, story, and songs are beloved and timeless,” he said. “The songs are familiar and will have you singing along and smiling as you leave the theatre.”

Charming schemer Nathan Detroit needs funds to run his latest gamble and will make any sort of bet to get that money. Sky Masterson, the biggest gambler in New York, takes Nathan’s bet to win over Sarah Brown, a devout Salvation Army sergeant. Can Sergeant Sarah find love with a smooth-talking sinner? Will Adelaide, Nathan’s fiance of fourteen years, finally convince him to commit?

The School of Music and School of Theatre and Dance, both within the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, have collaborated on a variety of musicals and operas over the years. “They have an amazing energy,” said Chrismon, “They have truly been wonderful collaborators throughout the process.”

With a new musical theatre track being implemented within the School of Theatre and Dance, this season is the prime time for a well-loved musical like Guys and Dolls. Chrismon aims to bring a new perspective to the production. The musical has been criticized for being misogynistic but he has worked to create more dynamic female characters and “to give the women power in the show.” He says the show is “big and flashy. It is a classic musical that features 31 actors on stage, a full orchestra, big dance numbers that will have you on your feet, and strong female characters that are right for updating in 2020.”

Performances are February 28, March 3–6 at 7:30 p.m. and February 29 and March 1 at 2 p.m. at Illinois State University’s Center for the Performing Arts Theatre. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the CPA Box Office at (309) 438-2535 or Ticketmaster.com.

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