Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls is a musical featuring music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The book is based on Damon Runyon’s tales of Broadway, and uses characters from across his work. The original production in 1950 was one of the most successful shows of the decade, and numerous revivals have been mounted all over the world. The show was particularly popular in London, and the first successful revival was mounted at the National Theatre directed by Richard Eyre. The show is a popular choice for amateur groups because of the popular story and fun songs.

Guys and Dolls Original Poster

Frank Loesser

Frank Loesser

Joe Swerling and Abe Burrows

short stories by Damon Runyon

Cy Feuer & Ernest Martin

George S. Kaufman

Michael Kidd

Guys and Dolls Original Broadway

Guys and Dolls - Original Broadway

46th Street Theatre - Opened 24 Nov 1950, closed 1 Jan 1970, 1200 performances

Cast: Robert Alda, Sam Levene, Isabel Bigley, and Vivian Blaine.

Guys and Dolls Original London

Guys and Dolls - Original London

London Coliseum - Opened 28 May 1953, closed 1 Jan 1970, 555 performances

Guys and Dolls 1st Broadway Revival

Guys and Dolls - First Broadway Revival

The Broadway Theatre - Opened 11 Jul 1976, closed 1 Feb 1977

Guys and Dolls National Revival

Guys and Dolls - National Theatre Revival

Royal National Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre - Opened 9 Mar 1982, closed 1 Apr 1986

Cast: Bob Hoskins (Nathan Detroit), Julia McKenzie (Adelaide), Ian Charleson (Sky) and Julie Covingtonas (Sarah)

Guys and Dolls 2nd Broadway Revival

Guys and Dolls - 2nd Broadway Revival

Martin Beck Theatre - Opened 14 Apr 1992, closed 8 Jan 1995

Cast: Nathan Lane

Guys and Dolls 2nd London Revival

Guys and Dolls - 2nd London Revival

Piccadilly Theatre - Opened 2 Jun 2005, closed 1 Jan 1970

Cast: Ewan McGreggor, Douglas Hodge, Jenna Russell

Guys and Dolls 3rd Broadway Revival

Guys and Dolls - 3rd Broadway Revival

Nederlander - Opened 1 Mar 2009, closed 14 Jun 2009, 121 performances

Cast: Craig Bierko, Lauren Graham, Oliver Platt

What was your favourite production? Add your thoughts in the comments box


Runyon Land opens the show setting up the hustle and bustle of 1950s New York’s Broadway. Three gangsters open the show singing “Fugue for Tin Horns”, as they bet on the outcome of the daily races. They are interrupted by the arrival of the Save-a-Soul Mission led by Sarah Brown who call the gambling sinners to “Follow the Fold”. Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet are awaiting the news of their employer Nathan Detroit to deliver the goods on an illegal crap game held around the city. They are desperately looking for a new host venue, (“The Oldest Establishment”) and are hoping Nathan comes up trumps. Nathan sets a bet with Sky Masterson that he can’t find a Doll to take to Havana with him and chooses Sarah Brown as the subject. He is determined to win her affection.

Meeting her at the mission he offers her dinner in Havana in return for twelve genuine sinners to boost her flailing mission that is threatened with closure. He tells her that “I’ll Know” when he falls in love, kissing her and getting slapped. Nathan visits the Hot Box nightclub to watch his long suffering fiance of 14 years Adelaide perform with her girls (“A Bushel and a Peck”). She asks him when will they be getting married and is angry that Nathan is still involved with gambling. She consults a medical book that tells her her constant cold is brought on by her need to be married, (“Adelaide’s Lament”).

The boys watch Sky continue to pester Sarah, noting that guys will do anything for the girls they love, (“Guys and Dolls”). Sarah is put under pressure by General Cartwright who demands that they bring in more sinners to the mission. Sarah promises 12 genuine sinners,, implicitly agreeing to Sky’s bet. Nathan watches the mission parade past the town, after he has agreed to elope with Adelaide and faints when he sees Sarah isn’t with them meaning he has lost his bet.

In Havana, Sky treats Sarah to a fun evening, and she drinks cocktails without knowing they are alcoholic. She kisses Sky and feels happy for the first time, (“If I Were a Bell”) and Sky realises he does have feelings for her. He takes her back to New York and on the street admits that “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”. As the police siren sounds, the gamblers run out of the mission where Nathan has been holding the crap grame. Sarah assumes Sky only took her to Havana to get her out of the way of gambling activities and she leaves angrily.

Adelaide continues to perform at the Hot Box (“Take Back Your Mink”) and as Nathan doesn’t show up for their elopement she consults her book again, (“Adelaide’s Second Lament”). At the Mission Sarah confesses to her grandfather Arvide that she is in love with Sky but can’t forgive him for fooling her. Her urges Sarah to follow her heart (“More I Cannot Wish You”). Sky arrives and promises her the sinners for the mission but she ignores him.

Nathan directs Sky to the sewers where the crap game is underway. Sky bets every sinner $1,000 against their souls, saying if they loose they have to attend the mission for him, (“Luck Be a Lady”). Sky wins and the sinners head towards the revival meeting. Adelaide stops Nathan and asks how much more she has to take (“Sue Me”) but he convinces her that he love her.

Everyone arrives at the mission and Nicely invents a story to get everyone confessing, “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat”. The police arrive and Sarah steps in to save them all, providing them with an alibi. Nathan confesses to her that it was he who arranged the bet with Sky and that Sky has only ever looked out for her feelings. Sarah runs into Adelaide and they share tips about resolving their pre-marital problems, “Marry the Man Today”. Some time later, Nathan prepares to marry Adelaide at the mission, just as Sky and Sarah have been married and Sky leads the mission band.

Act I
  • Opening
  • Overture
  • Runyonland
  • Fugue for Tinhorns
  • Follow the Fold
  • The Oldest Established
  • I’ll Know
  • A Bushel and a Peck
  • Adelaide’s Lament
  • Guys and Dolls
  • If I Were a Bell
  • My Time of Day
  • I’ve Never Been in Love Before
Act II
  • Entr’acte
  • Take Back Your Mink
  • More I Cannot Wish You
  • The Crapshooters’ Dance
  • Luck Be a Lady
  • Sue Me
  • Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the boat
  • Marry the Man Today
  • Finale

Between the years 1951 – 1992 Guys and Dolls has won a total of 15 Tony Awards!

In 1956 the Movie won Golden Globe awards for

  • Best Picture – Musical/Comedy
  • Best Actress – Musical/Comedy – Jean Simmons

There were 4 nominations for Academy Awards


UK: Josef Weinberger

USA: Musical Theatre International

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