Friday, September 2, 2011

"Guys and Dolls," the 1961 European Tour

Yes, that's right, in the fall of 1961 a group of Brockport students took their production of Damon Runyon's "Guys and Dolls" on the road - in Europe! The original Brockport production had been in 1960, and in 1961 the college was invited to select a group of student performers who would take the show on the road in Europe to American military bases under the auspices of the USO.

The college accepted the invitation and Professor Louis Hetler, Director of Theater at Brockport, took charge of the trip. Due to Defense Department rules on group travel, the original cast number had to be reduced to sixteen actors, the faculty director and a student pianist. The sets had to be made such that they would be transportable in footlockers, and many other hurdles had to be overcome.

The group set out October 9, 1961, for a seven week tour. They played for American service men and women at a number of military bases, and were able themselves to take in some of the culture of Germany and France. They also experienced some Cold War tensions, their bus being held up for over an hour at the infamous "Check Point Charlie" in Berlin, which was split at the time between the Russians and other former Allies.

Your archivist would love to hear from anyone who went on this trip, who might have stories to tell and photographs to share! Contact Charlie Cowling at or call him at 585-395-5667.

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