‘When you see a guy, reach for stars in the sky…you can bet that he’s doin’ it for some doll…’ A classic line from the musical Guys And Dolls, that may ring as true today as it did back in 1950 when Broadway audiences heard it for the first time. This classic comedy with its memorable tunes, quick wit, high stakes and tender romance is a timeless story that continues to be told all over the world, and will be for years to come.
The team at NOVA Music Theatre are about to open their 10-show run of Guys And Dolls, and leading cast members Lauren Seymour and Tim Haughton have been spending the last few months really honing in on how to bring their characters to the stage in a unique, refreshing, but also classic way.
Seymour (who’s playing Sarah Brown) has found familiar territory in taking on the role, as she performed as Sarah Brown fourteen years ago as part of a high school production. “It’s been great having a ‘second shot’ at playing Sarah. I had a heap of fun playing her the first time, and I just love the show.” Seymour says. Haughton on the other hand, took on the challenge of coming into the role of Sky Masterson with a completely unfamiliar take. “I didn’t know too much about the show, or the character of Sky going in. To be honest, early in the rehearsal process I didn’t like Sky much at all, so the trick for me was finding his likeable characteristics. I’ve really enjoyed the process of figuring out his path throughout the show, it’s been great fun.”
When it comes to working with NOVA, both Seymour and Haughton are no strangers to the name. Guys And Dolls marks Seymour’s fourth production with the company, and Haughton’s second. “It’s great to be around a team I’ve worked with in some capacity before. The vision of the show is so clear from our directors Noel and Wayne, and our choreographer Dean has such an eye for detail. It’s really going to look fantastic.” Enthuses Seymour excitedly. She adds “Our musical director John Clancy loves focusing on the details too, but also gives us freedom to explore our own interpretation of the songs and try new things. I also can’t speak highly enough of Anne Dewar who’s done an amazing job with the costumes. Make sure you look out for the boys’ beautifully hand painted and colour coordinated two-toned shoes!” Haughton, while not as seasoned with NOVA as Seymour, had such a great time working with the company last year that he felt he had to be involved again. “Working with NOVA in 2017 was such a good time, and the upbeat nature of Guys And Dolls is such a contrast to last years show, Les Misérables.”
When it comes to the development of the characters of Sarah and Sky, Seymour and Haughton have used trial-and-error, and parts within themselves they find relatable to these on-stage personas. “I’m having a lot of fun with Sarah’s character”, Seymour expresses. “There are a lot of relatable qualities; she stands up for what she believes in, and she’s not prepared to compromise her values. She has this vision of what her life ‘should’ be, and the dynamic between her and Sky when he begins to challenges that, is really a wonderful progression of her character. She lets her guard down with him, and exploring all of her layers while still maintaining her genuineness has been really rewarding.” Haughton’s approach has been different, and he’s been trying to apply an individual honesty to what is traditionally a ‘sleazy’ role, and he’s really taken to putting his own spin on it, despite various versions out there, including the 1955 film. “I’m no Brando, that’s for sure! I had to work to find my own rhythm which is stylish, but still genuine. There’s so much going on between the characters of Sky and Sarah, and working on all those moments with Lauren and figuring out what fits best has been something I’ve found especially fun to do.” he adds.
Both Seymour and Haughton can’t speak highly enough of their cast mates, and they both display a strong passion when speaking about their highlights from the show. Seymour remarks “I love the ‘If I Were A Bell’ scene, where Sarah’s walls are finally down. She’s really drunk, and making a complete fool of herself, and poor Tim has to put up with me pushing him around throughout the song! But that’s such a vital moment for the show as Sky is about to let his guard down too as that scene comes to a close.” Haughton adds “I think the first scene between Sky and Sarah is great, including the song ‘I’ll Know’. He’s so different at that point to where he ends up at the end of Act 1, and I love seeing the transition.”
“All the classic features of ‘Guys And Dolls’ are there. It’s fun, it’s colourful with big energetic numbers. The cast of the show are so hard-working and wonderful, it’s really going to be a fantastic show!” Seymour exclaims with excitement. It’s clear both Haughton and Seymour are proud of what they’ve achieved with NOVA’s Guys And Dolls, and both are sure that audiences are in for a treat. “There’s a reason they cast me to stand and sting: I could never keep up with our ensemble!” Haughton says with a laugh. “It truly is a classic musical done right!” Seymour relays this sentiment with “The audience are really going to love it. Plus, who doesn’t love a happy ending?”
NOVA Music Theatre’s Guys And Dolls opens on Saturday the 12th of May, and runs for 10 performances until Saturday the 26th of May at The Whitehorse Centre, 397 Whitehorse Rd, Nunawading, Vic 3131. Tickets available from https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=327915