From left, Tina Shelton, Lenny Klompus, Shari Lynn and Jim Hutchison star in "Guys and Dolls," an Army Community Theatre production.

Army players bet on
a musical classic

Jim Hutchison and Glenn Cannon have been members of the local theater community for so long that they've worked together many times. In their latest project together, Army Community Theatre's production of "Guys and Dolls," Cannon is in the director's chair and Hutchison is playing wily professional gambler Nathan Detroit.

'Guys and Dolls'

Presented by Army Community Theatre

» Where: Richardson Theatre, Fort Shafter

» When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8; continues with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 24

» Tickets: $20 and $15 (adults), $15 and $12 (children)

» Call: 438-3380 or go online at www.squareone.org/ACT

"Glenn and I work well together. We've switched places several times (in the past). I've directed Glenn, and he's directed me, and it's really nice when you trust each other like that," Hutchison said Sunday afternoon, doing a phoner while keeping an eye on the Little League World Series telecast.

A key to the ACT show, he said, is the enthusiasm of the ensemble.

"(Cannon) asked me to choreograph but somehow, to make a long story short, I got into doing Nathan (instead). But I want to give credit to these guys who are not dancers, and they are working their buns off. They really are. They're having a good time doing it, but it's new to them ... and for the crap game (scene), we had to teach a few guys how to shoot craps."

This visit to the world of columnist Damon Runyon's picturesque group of characters will be the third time Hutchison has been involved in a staging of the musical in Hawaii. He has directed and choreographed past productions.

"In the original cast, only one guy had been on a Broadway stage before, and that was Sam Levine, the guy that played Nathan," Hutchison said, sharing some background on the original 1950 hit.

"Nobody else in the cast had been on a Broadway stage before. That's really amazing. In fact, the guy they pulled out to play Big Julie -- they couldn't find anybody, and the agent finally called and said 'I got somebody, but you're gonna have to wait about a month (because) he's in jail.' He had been in on a small charge, but they had to wait for him to come out."

While Cannon didn't have to wait for any of his cast to make bond, Hutchison says that they found themselves competing for male talent with Diamond Head Theatre's upcoming production of "The Full Monty."

In comparison to that contemporary eyeopener, "Guys and Dolls" is a G-rated classic from Broadway's glamour days. Theatergoers have always embraced the story of the big bet between two gamblers that brought a couple of unlikely people together.

Nathan Detroit bets Sky Masterson a thousand bucks that he can't persuade Miss Sarah Brown of the Save-A-Soul Mission to accept his invitation to spend a night in Cuba -- and remember, this is 1950, and Havana in the '50s was to many Americans what Vegas is to Hawaii folk.

Tina Shelton returns to ACT in the starring role of Sarah, with Lenny Klompus as Sky Masterson, and Shari Lynn as Nathan's girlfriend, Miss Adelaide, the star of the Hot Box Cabaret.

"We've got a bunch of good Hot Box Girls," said Hutchison. "They're a very energetic and enthusiastic cast, and we're having a good time. We call it 'the senior version.' Shari and I laugh about it," acknowledging that all four leads are considerably older than the characters they're playing.

But it's theater, after all, and "if a cast is energetic and enthusiastic, that's about 75 percent of your show."

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