“Guys & Dolls is perfect. It is a big Broadway show in your town. It is a treat,” said John Loesser. 

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John Loesser and the ultimate piece of American musical theater, “Guys & Dolls” were born in the same year, 1950. John, the son of Broadway musical giant Frank Loesser who wrote and composed the production has become an entertainment industry professional in his own right, now living in Stuart, Florida.

He decided early on in his life that he wanted to be a part of the industry; his mother was a producer on Broadway and his stepmother,
Jo Sullivan, a leading lady. By age 16, John was assisting major Broadway producers.

After New York and Pennsylvania, his career eventually led him to Florida over 20 years ago where he is now executive director of Lyric Theatre in Stuart.

“It is in my blood,” John said. “It is what I love to do.”

John Loesser (left) and Steve Janicki in front of the King Center where “Guys & Dolls” will be performed in January.

John Loesser (left) and Steve Janicki in front of the King Center where “Guys & Dolls” will be performed in January.

Coming to the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts on January 2, “Guys & Dolls,” is still the most produced classic musical of all time.

The original production opened on Broadway on November 24, 1950 and ran for 1,200 performances and the hit 1992 revival with Peter Gallagher, Nathan Lane and Faith Prince ran almost as long as the original. A film version, starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine (recreating her role as Adelaide), had the highest box-office gross of 1955.

Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical New York City, the romantic comedy — considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy — soars with the spirit of Broadway as it introduces the audience to a cast of vivid characters who have become legends: Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight “mission doll,” out to reform the evildoers of Times Square; Sky Masterson, the slick, high-rolling gambler who woos her on a bet and ends up falling in love; Adelaide, the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she’s been engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiancé, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game.

The show’s production in Melbourne has another personal connection for John as he and Steve Janicki, executive director of the King Center, are close associates and friends. “It has been my pleasure to have known John Loesser for many, many years,” said Steve Janicki. “He is a prince among men and a great friend. Coming from a long line of talented and famous contributors to the theatre and performing arts, John has successfully carried that DNA into his own career.”

John has seen the show countless times all over the world, including a performance of Adelaide by a then 10-year-old Mandy Moore, who is now an actress and singer. The show’s timelessness can be credited to several factors, according to John, including the great music and lyrics, an easy to understand plot and the loveable characters that are now immortalized.

“Guys and Dolls is such a classic musical,” Steve said. “I booked it into our theatre because of the popularity of the show and my great admiration and affection for John and his distinguished family.”

Guys & Dolls
January 2, 8 p.m.

The King Center for the
Performing Arts, $35-$58
KingCenter.com | (321) 242-2219

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of SpaceCoast Living.
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