It has been 16 years since Frank Loesser’s classic romantic comedy “Guys and Dolls” last graced the Maine State Music Theatre stage. The beloved musical’s gamblers, gangsters and Hot Box girls returned to the theater Thursday night in eye-catching costumes and acrobatic dance numbers, portrayed by a cast who could win over even the most puritanical hearts.

Under the direction of director/choreographer DJ Salisbury and musical director Brian Cimmet, this rendition of “Guys and Dolls” is a sure bet. It’s a win-win from the moment the 33-member cast begins flooding the stage in a flurry of activity. Scenic designer Robert Andrew Kovach’s fictionalized New York City set becomes awash with a rainbow of colorful dresses and loud, checkered suits, designed by Ryan Moller. And, from there, the odds just keep getting better.

Charis Leos and James Beaman stare as Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls.” Photos by Roger S. Duncan

“Guys and Dolls” offers a charmingly cartoonish view of 1940s Broadway, where gangsters with names like Harry the Horse (Danny Arnold), Big Jule (Danny Rutigliano) and Angie the Ox (John Edmonds) come to gamble. Nathan Detroit (James Beaman) runs the largest craps game in town, but has recently found himself dogged by Lt. Brannigan, played by the arresting Joe Gately. Desperate for cash to secure a location for the game, Detroit makes a bet that he thinks he can’t lose with fellow gambler Sky Masterson (Stephen Mark Lukas).

Maine State Music Theatre has chosen an engaging cast to bring out the heart and humor of “Guys and Dolls.” The ever-popular Charis Leos is Nathan Detroit’s 14-year fiancé, nightclub hottie Miss Adelaide. She is the ultimate classy – and sassy – doll, belting out sultry renditions of “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Take Back Your Mink,” backed by a bevy of sensational Hot Box girls. Her timing is classic, doling out humanizing laughter and tears on a standout performance of “Adelaide’s Lament.”

Leos is delightfully paired with Beaman as Nathan Detroit. The two have a strong rapport, keeping the laughter flowing. Like Leos, Beaman has a knack for bringing out both the humor and touching aspects of the pair’s comically mismatched love story.

As the characters in “Guys and Dolls” learn, you can’t fight chemistry, and the cast has it in spades. Lukas and Kristen Hahn sizzle as polar opposites Sky Masterson and missionary Sarah Brown. Their characters’ personalities are highlighted by the harmonious blending of her high, bell-like vocals with his smooth, rich undertones on such duets as “I’ve Never Been In Love Before.” Lukas exudes an irresistible cocky charm, and Hahn offers up a fun feistiness. She is beyond adorable on “If I Were a Bell,” her drunken character’s properness giving way to girlish fascination.

Glenn Anderson adds to the sweetness of the production as Sarah’s grandfather, Arvide Abernathy, delivering a touching rendition of “More I Cannot Wish You.”

There are plenty of colorful characters to keep the smiles coming in this production. Steve Gagliastro, Brad Bradley and Raymond Marc Dumont are endless sources of entertainment as Nathan Detroit’s gambling associates Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet and Rusty Charlie. The talented trio are a marvel to watch as they tap their way through the song “Guys and Dolls,” with Gagliastro offering up a stellar trombone solo.

Salisbury’s choreography on such numbers as “Havana” and “The Crapshooters’ Dance” are fluid motion, executed by the agile ensemble.

“Guys and Dolls” offers a wonderful combination of energizing dance numbers and memorable songs such as “Luck Be a Lady, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” and “Marry the Man Today.” The production is well-executed, high-rolling fun.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

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Twitter: @ahboyle