Paul Russell

author • director • casting director


Guys and Dolls


Playhouse on the Square

"Guys & Dolls will win you over

in a new production at Playhouse on the Square."


The Commercial Agent

Director's notes...




Growth. Renewal. Change.


A Guys and Dolls firmly planted this production within the original era for which its source creator, Damon Runyon wrote; the Great Depression.

The mid 1930’s was a time when the country was taken up the lift hill of FDR’s New Deal coaster. With WPA projects sprouting up around the country, the dust bowl howling in the plain states, Hitler and Mussolini signing an Axis pact, America and the world was at a precipice.

There was great growth in New York City amidst (and despite) the depression. Construction began of notable, iconic, skyscrapers that today remain hallmarks of the New York skyline; the Chrysler Building, The Bank of Manhattan Tower and the Empire State Building. It was a dichotomy of growth and hope against the struggle for survival on the streets of New York.

While Woody Guthrie sang of “Pastures of Plenty” and “I Ain’t Got No Home”, the Hoover Dam rose during the economic turmoil and spoke directly and profoundly to a people who were afraid and unsure. As that concrete which corralled water rose from the barren desert floor, and the new Modernism buildings of New York soared above the despair of shanty towns, all offered an alternative to the narrative to that of The Great Depression; hope, renewal and change.

The goal in this Guys and Dolls was to mirror the dynamics of the era. Like the uncertain times of the Depression, Runyon’s notable characters of Times Square, drift through life, seemingly without direction but with wit, and heart, they rise and transform.

When first envisioning placing Guys and Dolls into its original era of the Great Depression, I imagined construction: corrugated tin, iron girders, pulleys, and wheeled construction items such as dollies. I saw a Times Square construction site that by the shows end would reveal the formidable and impressive facade of a sparkling theater. Growth that happened within the characters of the story would be reflected by the growth and renewal of space on the stage.

All of this open space construction, with varying levels would be enveloped upstage, deck to battens, with stage wide projections showcasing iconic photographs, in sepia tones, of the Depression era New York.





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