Guys and Dolls
Words: Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music: Frank Loesser
Written in: Authored Date:


Nathan Detroit is having trouble fi nding a place for his illegal crap game; he doesn’t have the thousand dollars he needs for a bribe to use the Biltmore Garage. However, high player Sky Masterson is in town and Nathan bets him that Sky cannot take ‘Save-a-Soul’ Mission Sergeant Sarah Brown on a date to Havana. Sky visits the Mission and ends up promising Sarah that he will supply some sinners for a meeting, if she goes to Havana with him.

At the Hot Box club, Nathan fi nally agrees to marry Adelaide, his fi ancée of fourteen years, but Adelaide knows he won’t go through with it, blaming him for her permanent cold. Later, Sarah discovers from Mission boss General Cartwright that her branch is closing, due to their lack of success. However, Sky recommends that the General visit the midnight prayer meeting, reminding Sarah that he will provide the sinners. Meanwhile, the crapshooters gather and Nathan still hasn’t seen the money from Sky. Lt. Brannigan shows up, but Benny saves the day with a surprise announcement that Nathan is getting married. Under pressure, Nathan agrees to elope with Adelaide the next night.

In Havana, Sarah relaxes with Sky under the infl uence of Bacardi-laced cocktails and, despite a brawl, she admits she’s had the best night of her life. On returning to New York, Sky admits he loves her, but the atmosphere is shattered when Sarah discovers that the crap game was going on in the Mission while they were away and turns her back on him, apparently for good.


The next night, Nathan cannot elope because the guys are still playing - now in the sewers. Tough guy Big Jule insists that nobody leaves until his luck improves. Sky turns up to persuade the guys to go to the Mission meeting, but they won’t until he bets them. Sky’s prayer to Lady Luck pays off and, en-route to the meeting, Nathan meets Adelaide, more furious than ever when he says he still can’t elope because he has to go to a prayer meeting!

At the Mission, Sarah and the others are astonished to see the guys arrive. Nathan confesses that he bet Sky to take Sarah to Havana, and reveals that he won the bet after Sky told him that they didn’t go. This is rather too much for Sarah, who runs out and bumps into Adelaide outside. Both hopelessly in love, they agree that the only way they can change their men is to marry them fi rst: the next day sees big celebrations, but will Nathan actually go through with it at last…?



Nathan Detroit runs the ‘Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York’, and in order to assist with an understanding of how the game works, here is a very brief introduction to the rules:

A crap game (a.k.a. ‘craps’, ‘shooting craps’ etc.) is played by one person at a time, with two dice and winning or losing relies on the numbers rolled. If the fi rst roll is a ‘natural’ (7 or 11), the shooter wins, whereas if it is ‘craps’ (2, 3 or 12), he loses. Any other number rolled (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) is called a ‘point’ and he has to roll the same number again in order to win. However, if the shooter rolls a seven while trying to roll this other number, he loses.

Betting rules (especially in casinos) are far too complex to go into here, but one fact remains: though only one person rolls, others can also place bets on the outcome.


Come out – the fi rst roll in a new round, after the shooter has won, or if he has lost and the dice move to another shooter

Snake eyes – a double 1

Making (a four) the hard way – once a ‘point’ (of four) has been rolled, achieving it with exactly the same combination of numbers


Tinhorn – cheap or disreputable (person), from metal dice shakers

The Radio City Music Hall – largest indoor theatre in the world, opened in 1932

aces back-to-back – holding two aces in Poker (a very desirable position)

sucker bet – basically a con: a bet which you have no chance of winning

Scarsdale – a small homely town near New York

Brooks Brothers – classic American Gents’s outfitters, founded in 1818

Studebaker – a classic American car

The Phillies – a baseball team: full name “The Philadelphia Phillies”

Streptococci – a group of bacteria which cause really bad sore throats

The fish-eye – a suspicious look

Bromo fizz – an effervescent stomach medicine

Saratoga – a big race track in the town of Saratoga Springs, New York

Community property – anything bought by (but not given to) a married person

New Rochelle – a city in New York state

Biloxi – a city in Missippi

folderol – ornamental objects of no great value

Vitalis – a brand of hair-tonic

Barbasol – a brand of shaving soap/foam

Brooklyn – a town in New York State

Blossom Time – a 1920s musical, based on a Schubert operetta

Dulche de Leche – a very sweet cocktail made with caramelised condensed milk

hollanderize – ‘to alter a fur’: probably from fur dressers A. Hollander & Sons

Sheep’s eye – to stare at someone in rapt adoring attention

Lickerish tooth – to have a ‘sweet tooth’ for someone, to drool over them!

Emily Post – wrote a 1922 book on etiquette

Sears-Roebuck – catalogue company, originally ironmongery

Paint cards – the picture cards in a deck (King, Queen, Jack)

Scratch sheet – a racing paper giving information on horses

The Whitney colors – a reference to racing colours

A+P – a local supermarket operated by ‘The Great American and Pacific Tea Company’

Roseland – the Roseland Ballroom, New York, events included boxing matches

according to Hoyle – correctly, properly (Edmond Hoyle wrote several definitive books on the rules of card-games, the first on Whist in 1792)

Wanamaker’s – New York department store

Saks and Klein’s – Both New York ladies outfitters/boutiques

Nome – town in Alaska

Guy Lombardo – Canadian bandleader, popular from the mid-1920’s

Rogers Peet – New York gents outfitters

A musical fable of Broadway based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon
Guys and Dolls, June 2004, Nuffield Theatre

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!