Untitled Document
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!

Problem with Guys & Dolls Book 5


Old King Log
Staff member
Last night I ran into something new with this old warhorse of a show. (I must hasten to add that I enjoy playing it a lot, even though it is almost as hoary as Sound Of Music.)

In one of the last recapitulations in the orchestrated series of Daymond Runyon scenes that goes by the rather prosaic name of "Number 1 Opening Guys & Dolls - Street Scene". And, while I have played this in performance perhaps eighty times in the past (not to count innumerable ones in rehearsal), this time through we discovered a serious (as in train off the track) problem.

Somewhere between bar 167 and bar 200, the Reed 5 part derails. Nears as our casual (no score, just comparing two reed parts) examination last night could tell, there are some sixteen extra bars inserted in the Reed 5 book at this point. But, while 16 bars would work out to two phrases in normal music, this section is so chopped up that the normal "phrase" definition does not seem to apply.

As is usual in musicals of the early modern era, this stretch of chart includes two key changes as well as three different time signatures (including one that is unmarked in all of the reed parts), and the transitional nature of the section means that the arranger's intent is less than clear, particularly in a part where a large chunk of the section is only noted as rests (in two different time signatures). There's no clear cut rhyme nor reason as to where the insertion might be, at least without a score to review.

After rehearsal last night, the lead tenor and I worked through the section in question and managed to isolate the problem into perhaps twenty of the bars included. I just plan to lay out starting at bar 161 until I know I'm solid with the rest of the saxes at bar 200. Much of the time is rest in any event, and all that I do during the rest of that stretch is fill in some harmony, harmony so fractured that I doubt that "wrong notes" would be that noticeable in any event.

However, what puzzles me is that I have played this so many times before, yet have not run into this problem in the past. True, sometimes the Runyon sequence at the start gets hacked down in the interests of time, too many prostitutes, or just general lack of interest in 1940's New York "color". But, I've never encountered this issue in the past, and the part is so out of whack that it would have been very noticeable had it been there before.

I'll have to dig out my previous copies of the chart and see if they are agree in their edition dates. This one has the usual string of dates, starting with "© 1948, 1950, 1955, Frank Music Corp", and ending with "© Renewed 1977, 1978 Frank Music Corp". The publisher is (as it was in all of the others that I can recall) Music Theater International. From what I can recall from the recent revival cast recording, it is not the version in the revival.

Last edited:
Cross check it with the libretto/string chart. I don't have access to my copy right now, but if there is singing during that song, then the libretto will have the right set and you should be able to figure out what's going on. The piano vocal and/or piano conductor score SHOULD have came as part of the rental materials, and I'd go off of that. I believe it's condensed, but at least you can tell where the key changes are supposed to be and delete bars accordingly. Make sure when you send the scores back you stick a note in there with the problems.


Old King Log
Staff member
Back when I was young and impressionable, I used to send correction notes back with my parts after the run of a show. However, after thirty years of seeing the same. huge mistakes in the same shows getting sent out by MTI and the others, I've learned not to bother.

What's getting to me in this one is that I've played this particular show so many times in the past, yet I do not once recall running across this anomaly. And, it's not just a note wrong (or a low G written for the baritone sax, or a low A for the tenor), it's at least a phrase and a half left in one part where it has been removed from the others (certainly from the sax parts, and it looks to be the same in the score).

I used to think that MTI was the best when it came to the parts, but I'm leaning towards Tams-Witmark now...
you may have just gotten a weird book. Sometimes they just get rebound. I've seen that a couple of times. The ones missing pages are the worst. I was doing Grease two years ago. Pit load in was 4 days before opening night. Found out that my book had 4 blank pages in it. Got the new music about 6 hours before curtain. Twas a fun day sight reading that.