In 1951, the committee that decides who should get the Pulitzer Prize voted to give one to "Guys and Dolls." But that vote was vetoed because Abe Burrows, who co-wrote the book for the musical, was in trouble with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
"Guys and Dolls" lost the Pulitzer but won the war. More than 60 years later, it's beloved and revered (unlike the House Un-American Activities Committee). It's packed with classic songs by Frank Loesser and iconic characters that Loesser, Burrows and co-librettist Jo Swerling adapted from Damon Runyon stories.
A national tour of "Guys and Dolls" is making a one-night stop at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Tuesday.
It's arguably the greatest show by music legend Loesser, who, with Burrows, finally got a Pulitzer in 1962 for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Among its most famous songs are "Luck, Be a Lady," "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," "Fugue for Tinhorns," "A Bushel and a Peck," "Adelaide's Lament" and the title number.
Its memorable characters include a lot of small-time gamblers with such colorful names as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet and Rusty Charlie. But at its heart, "Guys and Dolls" is an unconventional love story, with gambler Sky Masterson reluctantly falling for a beautiful Salvation Army worker.
Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 30, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $45-$70. Information: 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
-- Marty Clear