One of the country’s best-loved musicals will hit the stage in Kenai this weekend for a six-performance run.
The Kenai Performers’ rendition of “Guys and Dolls” opens Friday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School, giving theater lovers a look into the 1950s world of New York City gamblers and gangsters. Complete with orchestra and full choreography, the show is a classic big production that the Kenai Performers last put on in 1983, said Terri Burdick, the assistant director for the production.
Though the musical, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1951, has been in nearly constant production at Broadway and community theaters since its debut in 1950, Burdick said the Kenai Performers’ attention to sets lend it unique character. The director, Phil Morin, puts emphasis on sets as part of the production, she said.
“(Sets are) something smaller theater troupes may not spend a lot of time on,” she said. “… The curtains only go down at intermission. All those set changes have to be done by the cast, who are in character, and magically changing those sets … and at the end of that lovely song, it just magically changes and tada! We’re out on Broadway again.”
“Guys and Dolls” follows a set of gamblers in New York City in their attempts to scam one another and the women in their lives. Its music and lyrics were originally written by Frank Loessler, also known for the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and for the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Some songs will be familiar to all audiences — “Luck Be A Lady,” which Frank Sinatra made famous with a recording of his own, was originally written for “Guys and Dolls.”
Many of the actors in the production have made the rounds in peninsula theater. Karin Caldwell, who will play Miss Adelaide — the longtime fiancée of Nathan Detroit, one of the main gambler characters — has been in six Kenai Performers productions, including the lead in “South Pacific.” Justin Ruffridge, who plays the leading gambler Sky Masterson, has appeared in Kenai Performers productions since 2009, including “Oliver,” “Grease” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Morin has directed several of the larger productions at Kenai Performers over the years since its unofficial founding in the 1960s. His wife, Chris Morin, is the choreographer and costumer for “Guys and Dolls,” and their son Paul Morin will perform in the production as one of the gamblers and a dancer in his first Kenai Performers show.
Of her own role, Burdick said she does “just about everything” from helping out with costuming to running things around backstage and appearing in her own cameos onstage. Though the main roles are the performers who often get the most notice, everyone plays a role in making a production look effortless, she said. That includes everyone from set painters to background dancers to the people who run light and sound, she said.
“I’m also running around backstage, making sure props are in their right places,” she said. “I’m everywhere back there. But everybody works together, so even though I don’t have a big part, we are all working together to make sure this big production looks (to the audience) like, ‘Wow, I could do that!’”
“Guys and Dolls” will show Feb. 24, 25 and 26 and again on March 3, 4, and 5. Tickets are available at the Curtain Call Consignment Boutique, River City Books in Soldotna and at the door. General admission is $25, or $20 for students, seniors and military members with ID. Friday and Saturday performances start at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.