Windmill Theatre Company have hit the jackpot with their latest production, Guys and Dolls, opening at The Drum Theatre on the 19th of June.  With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Serling and Abe Burrows, the Tony Award Winning musical follows gangsters and gamblers in the never-ceasing hustle and bustle of New York and it’s underworld.

If you’re one of the unlucky few who have not seen Guys and Dolls in the past, Nathan Detroit (Sean van Geyzel) needs money to host his big craps game, so he bets Sky Masterson (Scott Reid) that Sky cannot get the beautiful and pious Sarah Brown (Lauren McCormack) to go out with him. While Sky impresses Sarah with his knowledge of the Bible and promises to recruit for her mission, Adelaide, Nathan’s fiancée, begs Nathan to quit the game and marry her.

Theatre People spoke with lead cast members from the show about the journey they have taken bringing this show to the stage, and what it is like to work on a musical that everyone knows and loves.

For Sean van Geyzel, the show is a unique challenge with the freedom to experiment with the preconceived ideas about Nathan Detroit.

“A character like Nathan Detroit has such potential to be played in different ways, and I am enjoying the way our director Peter Roberts has allowed me the freedom to experiment with playing lines different ways and explore the extremes that Nathan goes through,” says van Geyzel.

“It’s an opportunity for me to bring my own, and hopefully unique, version of Nathan Detroit to audiences. He goes on quite a journey during this show, and for me the ability to really explore extremes, and Nathan’s short fuse, is one I have enjoyed.”

A big fan of classic musicals, Guys and Dolls is one of Lauren McCormack’s favourite shows. Playing Sarah Brown, McCormack loves the way the character evolves over the course of the show, and the beautiful songs she sings, including her favourite, “If I Were a Bell”.  But Ms. McCormack doesn’t agree with those who see her character as light and fluffy.

“I think she has a great deal of strength and determination.  A harsh exterior, yet an idealistic innocence, which I want to show throughout the show,” she says.

“We have such a strong passionate production team, who have been fantastic at working with every single cast member to break down the characters and find meaning in the smallest of details.”

Ms. McCormack also says the show has been a fun and enjoyable process to rehearse and perform.

“I have also loved the opportunity to work with my close friend Lizzie Matjacic , and our challenge, as it always is when we are on stage together, is to get through our scenes without giggling!”

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Elizabeth Matjacic is playing Adelaide, a sweet and funny character with a huge heart.

“I feel connected to her, she is a total romantic at heart, she loves her man and will wait for him despite all he puts her through.”

For Ms. Matjacic, her favourite part of the show has been creating her own take on the character.

“I think both Sean and I are playing our characters with a more naturalistic take and that gives them more depth. There is still plenty of comedy there but also the human side, the hurt and sadness at times but always hope for Miss Adelaide – she’s hung in there for 14 years, so there has to be hope there!”

Playing Sky Masterson has allowed Scott Reid to reflect on his own personal growth, and investigate the charm and universal appeal of Sky. His character goes from focusing only on gambling, to falling in love for the first time, and having performed in a production of Guys and Dolls in the past, he thinks he knows what to expect from the run and from a live audience.

“I had the pleasure of performing in a production of Guys and Dolls last year, where I played the role of Benny Southstreet. Benny and Sky are two very different characters and they have very different perspectives on the events that drive the show,” he said.

“I am lucky in that I have had the chance to study this story from two completely different angles, which is an opportunity rarely afforded to a performer.”

“(Guys and Dolls has) a simple but kooky story, with a great array of characters and some standout songs.  I hope audiences simply come along and enjoy the escape from reality, which will be created for them here.  I just hope they get lost in the story and enjoy themselves.”

For eight shows only, you don’t want to take a gamble and miss out on Guys and Dolls by Windmill Theatre Company. Playing at The Drum Theatre in Dandenong from the 19th to the 28th of June, tickets are available online at www.drumtheatre.com.au

Photography: contributed.

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