Guys and Dolls is a classic Broadway hit, full of melodies that remain popular to this day, such as Luck Be a Lady and Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat. The play is based on tales by Damon Runyon, who wrote in gangster parlance, effectively mingling violence and kitsch.
Bill English, the director, has set the play in the late 1930s, using the Great Depression to heighten the characters’ stakes, and English has drawn the characters on the realistic side rather than as caricatures. To master the Runyonesque slang, the players had a dialect coach, Kimberly Mohne Hill.
I caught up with Melissa WolfKlain, a San Francisco Playhouse veteran, who plays Adelaide in this new production. Adelaide is a demanding role. She has to express anger, then dissolve into teary sniffling and sneezing for Sue Me and Adelaide’s Lament.
WolfKlain loves Adelaide’s hilarity and finds her fervent desire to settle down with her fiance of 14 years relatable. Adelaide “shows vulnerability, heart, and sass,” the actress remarked.
Guys and Dolls will strut its stuff at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street through January 13, 2024. Tickets range from $30 to $125. The show is recommended for kids over eight years old.