Clad in a three-piece pinstriped suit, black and white wingtip shoes and a fedora, Brandon McLemore strode across the stage, shook a pair of dice in his hand and serenaded lady luck.
“They call you lady luck. But there is room for doubt. At times you have a very unladylike way of running out,” McLemore sang, his baritone voice filling the Princess Theatre.
The high stakes 1950s New York City gambling scene will come to the downtown Decatur theater as Bank Street Players presents “Guys and Dolls.” Performances take place tonight and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.
“This show truly has something for everyone. We have showgirls, gambling in the sewer, a revival, two love stories and a bar brawl,” director Melissa Rice said.
A classic musical comedy from Broadway’s golden age, “Guys and Dolls” follows Nathan Detroit, who runs “the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York,” Miss Adelaide, a show girl and Nathan’s fiancée of 14 years, Sarah Brown, a sheltered and idealistic missionary, and Sky Masterson, a self-assured gambler attempting to win a bet by winning Sarah’s love.
Leading the 42-member cast is McLemore as Masterson, Jessica Geiger as Brown, Courtney Blanchette as Adelaide and Timothy Ernst as Detroit.
“I was not very familiar with the musical, but when the show was announced I watched the movie and realized I knew most of the songs,” McLemore said.
The Tony Award winning score with catchy toe-tapping tunes and romantic ballads by Frank Loesser includes the songs “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Adelaide’s Lament,” “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” "Take Back Your Mink," "Sue Me" and “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.”
The infectious music spurred Sam Perry to audition for the show.
“Nicely Nicely is a role I’ve wanted to play for a couple of years now. I really love his big numbers, like ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.’ They really fit my voice. This is a dream come true for me,” Perry said.
Rice, who shared the stage with Perry in “Hairspray” last summer, remembers when the Bank Street Players announced this year’s season.
“When they said, ‘Guys and Dolls,’ his face lit up. He was determined to play Nicely and worked hard for the role,” Rice said. “His is the surprise, breakout actor for me. He trained for auditions and won the role.”
“Guys & Dolls” marks Rice’s directing debut with Bank Street Players.
“I have a degree in theater arts and have directed, but mostly children’s productions. It’s like a different world being able to work with adults and older teens that are so talented and have honed their craft,” Rice said.
To transform the Princess Theatre stage into mid-20th century New York City, Rice started by choosing a backdrop covered in colorful signs reminiscent of Times Square. Using the backdrop’s colors as a foundation, Rice selected the costumes and designed the periaktos — revolving three-sided set pieces that show different scenes.
“This production is huge. Wrangling 40 people to create this musical has been the biggest challenge, but also the biggest reward. Seeing everyone work so hard and seeing it all come together, that has been my greatest joy,” Rice said. “What is so great about theater is it pulls in all types of people and you create this second family.”
Along with McLemore, Ernst, Blanchette, Geiger and Perry, the musical features Marcus Patten as Benny Southstreet, William Jenkins as Rusty Charlie, Hugh Morgan as Arvide Abernathy, Ben Callahan as Harry the Horse, Chuck Puckett as Big Jule, Ethan Sharp as Angie the Ox, Collin Riddell as Lt. Brannigan, Tim Nibert as Joey Biltmore, Angela Moore as General Matilda B. Cartwright, Savanna Lyles as Agatha, Gary McKenzie as Calvin, Amber Eckenrode as Martha and Hannah Yarbrough as Mimi.
Tickets cost $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students.
“This is our homage to classic Broadway. We are celebrating a musical that has lasted 70 years and we are going to give Decatur a darn good time,” Rice said.