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Saturday, July 11, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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CdA Summer Theater opens ‘Guys and Dolls’

Brandon Michael, Megan Renae Parker, Casey Raiha, Sarah Dahmen co-star in “Guys and Dolls” at Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre. (Emily Jones)
Brandon Michael, Megan Renae Parker, Casey Raiha, Sarah Dahmen co-star in “Guys and Dolls” at Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre. (Emily Jones)

“Guys and Dolls” has been charming audiences since its Broadway debut in 1950. This summer, local audiences will get to experience it with Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s production of the legendary show.

“It’s one of those beautiful Golden Age pieces that has aged really well and still plays well to contemporary audiences,” said director Jadd Davis, who’s also artistic director of CST. “It’s a time capsule that you can open any time in history and it still works.”

The musical will open at the Kroc Center Theater on Thursday and run Sunday, through July 29.

“Guys and Dolls” follows the story of an unlikely couple: the pious and proper Sarah Brown (Megan Renae Parker) and the high stakes gambler Sky Masterson (Brandon Michael), in addition to the pairing of Miss Adelaide (Sarah Dahmen), a showgirl, and her fiance of 14 years, Nathan Detroit (Casey Raiha), who runs a craps game.

The cast and crew are in the midst of rapid preparation. From first rehearsal to opening night, the show will come together in just 15 days.

“It’s very fast and furious and very exciting,” Dahmen said. “I think the culture and the atmosphere at Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre really makes a fast and furious process fun and feel really good, rather than being too intimidating or too high pressure.”

This process requires eight hour rehearsal days and prior preparation by the cast members.

“The biggest challenge at this juncture is there’s a dance happening in one room, there’s music happening in another, and there’s scenework happening in another,” Davis says of the rehearsal process.

“You just have to trust that at some point the connective tissue is going to happen,” said Parker.

Davis, who had his first experience with “Guys and Dolls” as a cast member with CST in 2005, said directing has provided him with opportunities to see the show in new ways.

“The wonderful thing about being a director is you’re working with actors who are giving you things that you’ve never seen before,” he said. “If I leave myself with an open mind to listen to what the actors are giving me, I’m probably going to do a better job as a director because I’m not trying to impose my will on them so much as letting them express their art to the fullest extent.”

Despite his willingness to keep an open mind, Davis holds in reverence the canonical status of the show and is hesitant to alter any of the major elements, though he has infused this summer’s production with his own vision.

“I wanted it to have a graphic novel sort of look so we’re using a lot of 1950s, Dick Tracy kind of elements in terms of how it looks and feels,” Davis said.

Even at nearly 70 years old, this musical remains an audience favorite. Davis believes part of the reason for this is the lack of judgment and expectation placed on the characters. “These are people that are dealing with their own issues; it’s really sort of equal access to flaws and equal access to virtues,” he said. “We have this sort of equal opportunity chance for comedy, equal opportunity chance for romance.”

After this season, Davis will be leaving his position as artistic director at CST in order to pursue a master’s in theater directing from the University of Montana. He hopes to continue to work with CST as a freelancer in the future.

For now, he’s enjoying the show.

“Both the production staff and the cast for this show are an absolute dream team,” Davis said. “… I’m just having the time of my life.”

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