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"Guys & Dolls" brings fun to Rowan stage

Fun is the operative word when it comes to the Rowan University production of the classic American musical Guys & Dolls, on the Pfleeger Concert Hall stage April 19 – 21. At least it is according to director Rebecca Rich.

"We're looking for every opportunity to be funny," she says of the rehearsal process, as well as creating characters that are "as real as possible."

Considered by many to be a near-perfect example of Golden Age musical comedy, Guys & Dolls offers a heartfelt but comic blend of romance, gambling and salvation as a colorful cast of gangsters, showgirls, missionaries and Times Square denizens get mixed up in 1950s New York.

It is all inspired by the stories of Damon Runyon, a writer so unique in his approach to idiomatic language and style that the term "Runyonesque" became a standard term defining such an approach. Characters and themes from a few of his short stories form the basis for the musical, written by Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows with a score by Frank Loesser.

"I love the rhythm and nature of the dialogue," Rich notes, referring to the very stylized way the characters speak. The language has been a "great educational part of the process," she adds, and learning all of these elements has been part of the collaborative spirit of the production.

"Comedy is a team sport," Rich declares, "and we have a great team."

The student actors represent a broad spectrum of the campus community with Theatre majors, as well as cast members from Journalism, Music and Engineering. On the creative side, Rich is joined by musical director Marian Stieber and conductor Salvatore Scarpa, as well as choreographer Henry Roy, costume designer Brian Strachan and set designer Bart Healy.

Presented by the College of Performing Arts and the Departments of Theatre & Dance and Music, Guys & Dolls will be performed on April 19 & 20 at 8:00 p.m. and April 20 & 21 at 3:00 p.m. in Pfleeger Concert Hall. Tickets are $20, general admission; and $15, seniors/non-Rowan students/alumni/staff. Rowan students are admitted FREE with valid ID (Rowan student tickets cannot be reserved online; call the box office directly).  Call 856-256-4545 or visit rowan.tix.com.