Ford's Theatre Guys and Dolls: Cast Interview
Starting March 13, 2020, Ford’s Theatre presents a new production of the classic American musical Guys and Dolls, directed by Peter Flynn. We spoke with our four leads, Maria Egler, Joe Mallon, Bueka Uwemedimo and Karen Vincent, about their roles and what songs they already have playing in their heads.
Tell me about your character. Why are you looking forward to portraying them?
Joe Mallon: I’m playing Nathan Detroit, a bit of a shady character who organizes a floating craps game for folks who want a little action. Not a bad guy, but [he’s] not doing things strictly legal. He has been engaged for 14 years because he’s reluctant to take the plunge into marriage. He is also quite funny, and that’s the part of him that most appeals to me. His humor humanizes him in a way that makes the audience root for him. It’s a great character with many facets, and I’m extremely excited to get the opportunity to portray him.
Maria Egler: Adelaide is a funny, charming and strong woman with a heart of gold. She believes in love and happy endings. … Bringing a character like that to life while adding my own experiences and thoughts will be an absolute joy.
Bueka Uwemedimo: Sky Masterson is Stoic, Suave, Funny, Smooth, a little cheeky and incredibly lucky. Who wouldn’t want to portray that for a day or two or the entire spring and summer season?
Karen Vincent: Sarah Brown is a young independent woman living in New York City with a mission to save the world. She’s a sergeant in the “Save-A-Soul” Mission who wears a uniform and follows the rules. She’s got a purpose and a plan for her life and won’t let any temptations get in her way. But then someone shows her that life isn’t predictable nor simple, and that there are many roads to enlightenment. Sounds like Wonder Woman meets The Karate Kid. I’m excited to approach Sarah from a less traditional angle. When you think about it, she goes through a very intense transition of ideology, and I look forward to trying to illuminate why and how that shift happens.
What excites you about performing in Guys and Dolls at Ford’s Theatre?
Joe Mallon: [Guys and Dolls] is so iconic. People who aren’t familiar with the show will still know some of the songs, like “Luck be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” To be a part of something that is so widely known and respected is a true honor. Also, we have an extraordinary cast and production team, so I think it’s going to be an outstanding production.
Karen Vincent: It’s always a pleasure to work at Ford’s. From the production team, to the stagehands, to the dressers, to the actors, everyone is very capable and professional, so it’s just a wonderful environment in which to create art.
Maria Egler: I am excited to take on this show because I am looking forward to the challenge it presents. I am not a dancer, and my role is very dance heavy. In the audition with our choreographer Dell [Howlett], he made it very clear that he was looking for storytellers, and I really connected with that. I will have to work hard to keep up with all of the amazing dancers in the show, but it is very nice to know that we will all be telling a story together.
Bueka Uwemedimo: I saw Guys and Dolls at a theatre back in the UK, while I was also on a Motown Musical tour across England. … I remember thinking to myself, I doubt I will ever get an opportunity to play such an iconic role as Sky Masterson. I love how Ford’s isn’t afraid to make bold casting choices, and I am very excited to bring this classic tale to life at Ford’s.
What song are you most eager to perform?
Karen Vincent: I’m probably most excited about performing “If I Were A Bell” because it has a good swing to it, and I love singing mid-century swing standards.
Maria Egler: “Fugue for Tinhorns” is a song that gets stuck in my head, but I don’t know the lyrics. There are times when it is on a constant loop in my head with nonsense words. Maybe doing the show will fix that!
Joe Mallon: I’m a sucker for the song “Luck be a Lady.” It’s not my song (Bueka has the honor there), but it’s still my favorite in the show.
Maria and Karen, what can you tell me about working with Peter Flynn and the plans for this particular production?
Maria Egler: I have had the privilege to work with Peter on Ragtime and Into the Woods and both were incredible experiences. My roles were much smaller … and I still felt like he was so invested in my character’s journey. I can’t wait to really dive in and work with him on this show and see his modern take on the piece.
Karen Vincent: Peter is such a smart and practical director. I’ve done two shows with him and find that I most appreciate his ability to clearly explain his ideas and actively help his actors get to a place of mutual understanding. Also, he’s a sharp dresser, so it motivates me to not wear sweatpants to rehearsal.
What’s it like performing at Ford’s Theatre?
Bueka Uwemedimo: When I first moved to Washington, D.C., from London almost seven years ago, I remembered asking my uncle, “Where are the best venues to perform in this city?” I recall him speaking very highly of Ford’s Theatre and sharing the history of Abraham Lincoln. Since that conversation, Ford’s was on my vision board and I fulfilled that vision debuting as Juror 11 in last year’s iconic production of Twelve Angry Men, directed by Sheldon Epps.
Joe Mallon: As far as working at Ford’s? ...I mean, they’re the best. They do consistently high-caliber work and it really feels like you’re part of a family when you’re working there. I couldn’t be happier about being lucky enough to be involved with this show. It’s gonna be great!
Lauren Beyea is Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at Ford’s Theatre, where she oversees media relations. She is editor of the Ford’s Theatre Blog. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBeyea.