CPCC Summer Theatre Returns with Guys & Dolls

My chat with Tom Hollis, director of the show and of the summer program
Courtesy, CPCC Arts

Guys & Dolls, the ultimate musical comedy, plays at CPCC's Halton Theatre June 15-21. Tom Hollis is directing the show and also serves as the director of CPCC's venerable Summer Theatre program.

Revue: What, if anything, will you do to put a fresh take on this old(er) musical?

Tom Hollis: Guys & Dolls is one of the most endearing and enduring musicals ever written. This will be the fourth time the program has presented the show and the first time in the Halton. By being in the Halton, we will be able to do things scenically that we have never been able to do in all the productions done in Pease Auditorium. The cast will also be larger than previous productions as well as the orchestra.

Revue: Why do you suppose Guys & Dolls has endured all these years?

TH: It's a good time in the theater. The story is fun. The tunes are hummable. Many have called it the "Great American Musical Comedy." Damon Runyon’s stories and characters speak to all ages and times.

Revue: How would you describe the musical to someone who's never seen it?

TH: Gamblers and their girls having the problems that all of us do in trying to make it through life. Love. Happiness. The eternal quest to not be alone. All wrapped up in a plot that keeps you guessing. With music that makes your toes keep tapping.

Revue: Who's the audience for this musical? Can kids see it?

TH: Guys & Dolls is truly a musical for the entire family. There is nothing in this show to worry parents. There is plenty of action and comedy to keep kids entertained.

Revue: Who are the leads for the musical? Are they names and faces Charlotte audiences will recognize, or are they new to the local theater scene?

TH: The four principals are not from Charlotte and are new to [CPCC's] summer theater. Sarah Brown will be played by Haley Henderson from Belmont University by way of Arkansas. Adelaide is performed by Charity Haskins of Western Carolina’s Musical Theatre program. Nathan Detroit –Michael Moore — is a student at Elon University, and Sky Masterson is being played by Ross Neal of James Madison University.

The supporting characters of Nicely Nicely Johnson, Rusty Charlie, and Benny Southstreet all have local connections. Nicely Nicely is being played by Beau Stroup. Beau played Edna Turnblad in last year’s Hairspray and Adolfo in The Drowsy Chaperone the season before. Ashton Guthrie is playing Rusty Charlie. Ashton is graduating from Northwest School of the Arts this year. Benny Southstreet is being performed by Mitch Dudas from Waxhaw. He is currently attending NYU in the musical theater program.  The rest of the 30-member cast is all local.

Revue: You're directing Guy & Dolls, but you're also the artistic director for CPCC's summer theater. I'm a Charlotte native, and I grew up with CPCC's summer theater. Why do you suppose it's been able to thrive all these years when other theater and arts groups have come and gone?

TH: [Our] Summer Theatre is unique on the Charlotte theater scene. It is the only true summer stock in the area. Our emphasis has always been on family entertainment at a price the entire family can afford. The quality of the productions at the reasonable price has helped us to thrive and continue. Our current venue of the Dale F. Halton Theater is one of the finest in the area. All together, CPCC Summer Theatre is a gift from the college to the community each summer. A way to thank and enrich our community as only a place as unique as CPCC can.

Revue: Anything else you want to say about this play or the summer season?

TH: We have an exciting season ahead this year. We will be presenting our nonmusical on the Halton stage for only the second time in our history. The children’s show is moving to Pease this summer to accommodate the special needs of Noises Off. So in order to serve all the kids that we have had attending the kids' show in the Halton, we have extended the run into mid-July and added Sunday matinees so that parent and kids can attend together. And of course we are very excited to be the first local company to present Legally Blonde: The Musical. Often called the “tweener” musical, Legally Blonde helped introduce an entire new generation to Broadway. We hope that we can get these same young people interested in our program and, of course, theater in general in the same way.

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