TUTS' GUYS AND DOLLS Opens Today With Powell, Mahowald & Cody

Susan-Powell-Joseph-Mahowald-Set-For-TUTS-GUYS-AND-DOLLS-20110908

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) presents the cast selected to lead the TUTS season opener of two-time Tony Award-winning best musical Guys and Dolls, opening today through October 9 at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby, between Walker and Rusk).

Made popular by the film starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, Guys and Dolls follows a group of gamblers, gangsters and gals in the seedy, after-hours underworld of the city that never sleeps. Featuring all new scenery and filled with hits like "Luck Be A Lady" and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," this show is one the whole family will enjoy - you can bet on it!

Susan Powell, a TUTS veteran and former Miss America, plays Save-a-Soul Mission's ultimate "good girl" Sarah Brown. Chasing after Brown's affection is Sky Masterson, performed by Joseph Mahowald. Audiences will remember Mahowald most recently from 2010's 9 to 5 as Franklin Hart, Jr. He has also appeared in Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde and Les Misérables.

Acting in the role of loveable chronic gambler Nathan Detroit is Matt Merchant whose regional credits include the title role in Bye Bye Birdie as well as Beauty and the Beast and Carousel. Starring opposite Merchant is longtime Broadway professional Jen Cody as Miss Adelaide, Detroit's fiancée for 14 years and lead entertainer at the Hot Box. Cody last appeared at TUTS as Bonnie Latour in Anything Goes and lists Cats and Beauty and the Beast among her Broadway credits.

Cameron James, who toured nationally with The Color Purple and portrays Nicely-Nicely Johnson, and Ven Daniel, who toured nationally with Legally Blonde and appears as Benny Southstreet, will form the duo who helps Detroit in his gambling deals. Adding to the line-up, Brian Barry acts the part of hot-headed hooligan Big Jule. Barry returns to TUTS after appearing in 2008's Hello, Dolly! Spencer Moses, who appeared in the 2009 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls, plays Harry The Horse.

Arvide Abernathy, Sarah Brown's grandfather who works for the Save-a-Soul Mission, is played by Kevin Cooney. Cooney has appeared in several TUTS shows, including recent shows White Christmas and The Sound Of Music. General Cartwright, also from the Save-a-Soul mission, is performed by Lisa Landa. Landa most recently appeared in TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre's teen summer conservatory production of Vote! A New Musical.

Rounding out the lead roles is Michael Tapley, who acts as both Lt. Brannigan and Joey Biltmore. Tapley's credits include the title role in The Who's Tommy on Broadway, on national tour and in Germany.

Completing the cast are William James Daniels, Kurt Domoney, Matthew C. Donnell, Taurean Everett, Tony Guerrero, Brittany Halen, Mark Jackson, Jupinko, Alissa LaVergne, Ashley Lee, Nathan Madden, Brad Madison, Theresa Nelson, Eric S. Robertson, Michelle Smith, Steven Sofia, Eric Stretch, Jay Tribble, Kristin Warren, Erin Wasmund, Steven Wenslawski and Paige Wheat.

Guys and Dolls is based on "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure," two short stories by Damon Runyon, and also borrows characters and plot elements from his other stories. The production features the music and lyrics of Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

Guys and Dolls will be directed by TUTS Associate Artistic Director Roy Hamlin. Hamlin's most recent directing credits include Urban Cowboy: The Musical, Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors and The Sound of Music. He regularly serves as an out-of-state adjudicator for the Louisiana Division of the Arts granting panel on theatre and dance and provides a similar service for the Houston Arts Alliance and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Also, Hamlin served from 2005 to 2008 on the New Musicals Selection Committee for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

Guys and Dolls also features the work of choreographer Paula Sloan, whose previous TUTS productions include Urban Cowboy: The Musical, It's A Wonderful Life, and 110 In The Shade. Joining Sloan on the creative team are Sound Designer Kit Bond, who last worked with TUTS on Curtains, and Music Director Steven Jamail, one of the creative collaborators behind Vote! A New Musical. Other members of the creative team include longtime TUTS colleagues Lighting Designer Richard Winkler and Assistant Lighting Designer Paul Hudson.

Tickets (starting at only $24) are available on-line at TUTS.com, by phone at (713) 558-TUTS (8887), outside the Houston area at (888) 558-3882, or in person at the Theatre Under The Stars Box Office, located at 800 Bagby at Walker, Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Saturday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. An audio described performance is available Sunday, October 9 at 2 p.m.; open captioning is available Sunday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. The Hobby Center is wheelchair accessible. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more and may be purchased by calling (713) 558-8888 or via email at groupsales@tuts.com.

TUTS' presentation of Guys and Dolls is made possible by the generosity of ConocoPhillips, Haynes and Boone, LLP and Total.

Theatre Under The Stars' 2011-2012 Seeing Is Believing season is generously sponsored by St. Luke's Episcopal Health System. For all of TUTS' shows, air transportation is provided by United Airlines, the official airline of Theatre Under The Stars. Media sponsors include ABC-13 and Houston Chronicle. Season support is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Theater District Association and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Founded in 1968, Theatre Under The Stars is Houston's acclaimed non-profit musical theatre company under the direction of President and CEO John C. Breckenridge. TUTS was the first theatrical organization in Houston to perform free to the public in 1968 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, and is the only Houston arts organization that has performed there free to the public every year since the building opened. Since its founding by Frank M. Young, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world premieres such as Kopit and Yeston's Phantom, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Jekyll & Hyde, and Irving Berlin's White Christmas as well as critically acclaimed re-inventions of classics Cabaret and Les Miserables. Through its membership in the Independent Presenters Network, TUTS has helped bring Bombay Dreams, 9 to 5, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Spamalot, Legally Blonde, Ragtime, Curtains and The Color Purple to Broadway.

As a way to continue the tradition of musical theatre, TUTS Education provides instruction and stage experience for more than 21,000 students annually, allowing students to flourish in a year-round schedule of classes. With a common goal - to expand arts access to children of all abilities - The River Performing and Visual Arts Center (The River) merged with Theatre Under The Stars in 2010, creating a unique, barrier free, arts education model for non-profit musical theatre performing arts organizations. TUTS Education provides extended on-site programming as well as off-site programming for children in schools, hospitals and other community-based sites. Housed in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, TUTS also annually presents the Tommy Tune Awards, honoring the best and brightest in Houston's high school musical theatre programs.

Photo Credit: Peter James Zielinski

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