Born in Manhattan, Kan., Damon Runyon found fame and fortune on the streets of New York City’s Manhattan, writing about the glamorous and not-so-glamorous characters he encountered.

Runyon was a bit of a character, himself, rubbing elbows with Poncho Villa, making a name for himself as a writer covering boxing and baseball and landing in the halls of fame for both sports, and describing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1933 for William Randolph Hearst’s news publications. After he died, Runyon’s ashes were illegally scattered over Broadway from a DC-3 piloted by famed aviator Eddie Rickenbacker.

Through voluminous short stories and newspaper coverage writing for Hearst, Runyon’s characters often were bigger than life, jumping off his printed pages. None more so than the assemblage of sometime dubious personalities sharing the stage in Frank Loesser’s musical comedy “Guys and Dolls,” which opened on Broadway in 1950, ran for 1,200 performances and dominated the Tony Awards.

For nearly 70 years, the romance-themed musical based on several Runyon short stories has continued to collect awards for revivals in London and on Broadway. And now it will light up the stage in Green Valley with a singing and dancing cast of 22 performing 14 show-stopping tunes beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Community Performance & Art Center.

Presented by Santa Cruz Shoestring Players, the iconic story of two women’s trials and tribulations with a pair of gamblers enamored with betting on horse races and shooting craps will also be presented at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18, 19, and 24-26, as well as 3 p.m. on Jan. 20 and 27. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets may be ordered at 520-399-1750, or online at www.performingartscenter.org.

One of the dolls in this fast-paced recollection of life in the Big Apple is Miss Adelaide, a good-hearted showgirl determined to consummate her 14-year engagement to fiancé Nathan Detroit with a wedding. Her true love, Nathan, who prides himself in running the “oldest established floating crap game” in New York, frequently finds himself low on cash and even more frequently finds ways to avoid setting a wedding date.

The “Save-A-Soul Mission” manager, Sarah Brown, is a doll who gets involved with the gambling crowd while trying to get more sinners to a prayer meeting. She is the object of a wager made by Nathan and Sky Masterson, a glib high roller with a lot of clout among the line-up of characters spending their days at the race track and nights rolling dice in the floating crap game.

Sky bets on almost anything, including which sugar cube a fly will land on and whether a man can recall, without looking, the color of the tie he is wearing. Nathan, who needs $1,000 to arrange accommodations for his dice game, bets Sky that amount that he can’t persuade Sister Sarah to accompany him to Cuba for an evening on the town in Havana.

While Nathan pursues secret locations for his game, Sky pursues the missionary. The gamblers must find temporary gaming venues in an empty tractor trailer pulled through the streets of Manhattan, the city’s sewer works, and the Save-A-Soul Mission. The game has to keep moving because an Irish police lieutenant has his eye on Nathan and is determined to put an end to his illegal gambling.

Should the lieutenant succeed, it will be a dark day, indeed, for the gaming faithful with aliases like Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet, Rusty Charlie, Harry the Horse, Liver Lips Louie and Big Jule, a Chicago gangster who, in big money games, prefers using his own dice which sport no spots. He insists he remembers where all the spots belong and brings along hoodlum pals to back him up. Big Jule insists he’s led an honest life, with more than 30 arrests and no convictions.

These characters come tumbling out of Runyon’s tale singing and dancing to Loesser hits like “Fugue for Tinhorns,” “If I Were a Bell,” “Take Back Your Mink,” “Luck Be a Lady,” “Sue Me” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”

Among the lead actors are musical veterans Neil Crapo as Nathan, Regina Ford as Adelaide, Murry Holmstrom as Sky, and Katie Grant as Sarah. Gabriel Brown, a professional actor, musician and voice-over artist who played Joseph in Shoestring’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” plays Nicely-Nicely, and Quail Creek’s Ray Hebert portray Big Jule, spotless dice and all.

The show is directed by Marcy Miller, with musical direction by Holmstrom and choreography by Susie and Zanna Brown. Hebert did the set design. Costume design is by Francine Muse, Linda Swanson is stage manager and technical direction is by Steve Schmidt. Shoestring Players founder Susan Voorhees is the producer.

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