"Luck Be a Lady": Guys and Dolls in Concert Plays the Hollywood Bowl July 31-Aug. 2

By Andrew Gans
July 31, 2009

A starry, concert version of the classic Frank Loesser musical Guys and Dolls — featuring Ellen Greene, Jessica Biel, Scott Bakula and Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell — begins a weekend run at the Hollywood Bowl July 31.

Richard Jay-Alexander, who helmed last summer's acclaimed Les Misérables in Concert at the Bowl, directs with choreography by Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie. Kevin Stites is the musical director for the eagerly awaited event, which plays the famed venue through Aug. 2.

The cast boasts Little Shop of Horrors and "Pushing Daisies" alum Ellen Greene (as Miss Adelaide), film actress Jessica Biel (as Sarah Brown), stage and screen star Scott Bakula (Nathan Detroit), Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell (Sky Masterson), Emmy winner Beau Bridges (Arvide Abernathy), theatre veteran Ken Page (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) and Broadway favorite Ruth Williamson (General Matilda Cartwright) as well as Herschel Sparber (Big Jule), Jason Graae (Benny Southstreet), Bill Lewis (Harry the Horse), Danny Stiles (Rusty Charlie), Amir Talai (Angie the Ox/Joey Biltmore), Jody Ashworth (Lt. Brannigan), Cindy Benson (Agatha) and Grace Wall (Martha).

The Hot Box Girls are played by Sandahl Bergman, Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Kathryn Wright, Jillana Laufer and Tracy Powell. Male dancers include Oskar Rodriguez, Stefan Raulson, Angelo Rivera, Christopher L. Morgan, Chris Holly and John Todd. The ensemble comprises David Raimo, Paul Dean, Daniel Guzman, Josh Christoff, Kyrra Richards, Nikki Tomlinson and Catherine Chiarelli.

Greene recently spoke with Playbill.com about her latest role and her director: "The vision that [Richard Jay-Alexander] has for the show is spectacular. To work with him feels like working with a Ziegfeld. He goes into a spiel and you think, 'I'm a believer! I believe you! I'll follow you, sir!' He's a master showman. When he describes how to sing a song — he was talking to Jessica Biel — I was in awe. He's quite brilliant. A lot of those things — I don't even think about how you do it, it's all by instincts, but he was describing with these words, and I went, 'Wow!' And showing! The soprano voice that came out of his mouth was shocking, so it was a wonderful first day."

And director Jay-Alexander returned the compliment. "Ellen Greene should never not be on a stage somewhere. She is so special and so unique, and I am really flattered that she agreed to be in Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl. That said, she is surrounded by an amazing cast, with formidable acting partners. At the end of a feverishly paced first day of music rehearsal, using every room available to us, we did a full 'read/sing-through,' and my jaw dropped at least a dozen times. There were also plenty of laughs and tears to go around the room. Having Ellen play Miss Adelaide is sort of a no-brainer. Ellen makes me laugh every day and loves the process but, in this situation, it all has to happen very quickly. She's thorough and diligent and really cares. And, oh yeah, can that girl deliver a line! She and Scott Bakula are already creating sparks on stage and since 'chemistry' is in the delicious script and score, I think we've got it here! Fingers crossed!"

The creative team for Guys and Dolls in Concert also features Evan Bartoletti and Lisa Lechuga, set designers; Tom Ruzika, lighting designer; Tommy Marquez, costume designer; Michael Moore, wig and hair designer; Valerie Jackson, hair and makeup designer; Kirk Graves, props coordinator; James Kinney, associate choreographer; and Marciann Shapiro, assistant costume designer.

Based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The original Broadway production opened at Broadway's 46th Street Theatre in November 1950, running 1,200 performances before closing Nov. 28, 1953. Among the premiere cast were Robert Alda as Sky Masterson, Isabel Bigley as Sarah Brown, Sam Levene as Nathan Detroit and Vivian Blaine as Miss Adelaide. Blaine re-created her role for the 1955 film, which also starred Marlon Brando as Sky Masterson, Jean Simmons as Sarah Brown and Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit.

A new Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls recently ended a run at the Nederlander Theatre and featured Oliver Platt (as Nathan Detroit), Lauren Graham (as Miss Adelaide), Craig Bierko (as Sky Masterson) and Kate Jennings Grant (Sarah Brown).

Show times at the Bowl are July 31 and Aug. 1 at 8:30 PM and Aug. 2 at 7:30 PM.

The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue in Hollywood, CA. For tickets call (323) 850-2000. Visit www.hollywoodbowl.com for more information.