It was 50 years ago this fall that the legendary Guys and Dolls hit the stage at the 46th Street Theatre, where it was to remain for 1,200 performances. To commemorate this historic theatrical event, the Museum of the City of New York is presenting Guys and Dolls: The Fabled Musical of Broadway, an exhibition that will present a visual history of the show, while also offering a historical and cultural context for the musical.
Opening on November 24, 2000 - 50 years to the day of the show's premiere - the exhibition will run for six months ending June 10, 2001. MCNY is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue in New York.
Based on Damon Runyon's Jazz Age experiences when he was a reporter at William Randolph Hearst's New York American, the show, which presents Broadway in the 1920s, was specifically drawn from the short story "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown," which first appeared in the January 28, 1932, issue of Colliers. Runyon based a number of characters and places on those he knew or had encountered, scarcely masking his characters' and locales' identities (the famous deli Lindy's, for instance, became Mindy's).
The exhibit will display photographic, painted, and written materials from the time, portraying figures and places of the era - showgirls to speakeasy hostesses, bootleggers to the Salvation Army's Broadway Mission. It also draws on composer Frank Loesser's and playwright Abe Burrows' personal archives to examine the process of transforming Runyon's words into what Bob Fosse deemed "the greatest American musical of all time."
Sounds from the score will play at the exhibition, and enlargements of Jo Mielziner's scenic designs will serve as background to displays of Alvin Colt's costumes.
The museum has planned several discussions during the exhibition's opening weekend: Jo Sullivan Loesser, Frank Loesser's widow, and his daughter, Susan Loesser, will be on hand opening day (Friday, November 24) to talk about Loesser's career and his role in creating Guys and Dolls; costume designer Colt will discuss his designs on Saturday, November 25; and star Isabel Bigley Barnett will discuss her experiences in originating the role of Sarah Brown, the mission girl Sky Masterson falls in love with.