I started writing this review before I attended the current production of Maine State Music Theatre’s “Guys & Dolls.” I think of it as my job not so much to critique as to educate and encourage people to attend live theater. So when you’re seeing a show that’s been around for decades and has been produced in community, high school and professional theaters and movies literally thousands of times, what’s the motivating factor for attendance?

For one thing, it’s a fantastic show. Based on stories and characters created by writer Damon Runyon, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, “Guys & Dolls” is considered by most to be the perfect musical comedy. MSMT Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark once told me, “One of the reasons it’s such a great show is because the people know when to clap.” He added, “The people know when to clap because the construction and order of the script and music is near perfection.”

Prior to attending, I know that another reason to attend the MSMT production is because of the consistent caliber of shows presented there.
This production in particular gives the audience an evening full of laughter, silliness, tender moments, amazing vocal talents and incredible depth of stage presence from the smallest chorus girl to the stellar leads. The production values are high. The set is simple yet bold, comic-like in places, which fits the expected stylized characters of the show, my favorite set pieces being the sewer and the Hot Box proscenium.

With Loesser’s classic score, “Guys & Dolls” is a show that has many crowd-pleasing songs. I cannot hear the show title without hearing “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat,” my favorite scene in this and all productions.

The choreography, by Director DJ Salisbury, is fabulous, peaking for me with the dance sequence in the sewer scene. The costuming, by Ryan Moller, is an inspired assault of color, possibly including more, bolder, unique plaid than has ever been seen in one place. I loved it, and these choices set the tone for this high comedy, high energy show.

With a production like this, which has been presented untold times (no surprise, Music Theater International, which manages the rights to the show, declines answer this query) my mind wanders to sheer numbers. Just a sampling of the numbers involved look like this:
Times produced at BMT/MSMT, 5. Cast members, 34. Crew and production staff, 50-plus.

Songs, 20. Musicians, 9. Performances, 24. Administrative staff, 29. Scenes, 17. Performance interns, 8. Board members, 25. MSMT Angels, 75. Non angel volunteers, 300. Donors, hundreds. Loyal subscribers 9,000. Scenes, 17. Performances in the original 1950 Broadway run, 1,200. Tony Awards, 9. Most costume changes for one person, 11. Weeks of rehearsal, 2. Body mics, 40. Light cues, over 400.

How many times can I see this show, be left humming “Luck Be a Lady” and not grow tired of it? Well, at least four so far.

“Guys & Dolls” runs through July 15. For more information, visit www.msmt.org or call 725-8769.

Tamara Lilly is a Woolwich native with 30-plus years as performer, tech, producer, director, teacher, board member and staff at community theaters in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Find the Stage Door Diva Podcast on iTunes or stagedoordiva.com.