Guys and dolls musical showcasing local talent this month

Lauren Roulston, Marcela Gonzalez, Parujee Akarasewi • Apr. 3, 2024

Ryan Mendoza will be playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the upcoming production of Guys and Dolls. Left to right: Ryan Mendoza, Lauren Roulston, Marcela Gonzalez (Parujee Akarasewi/CHUO)


Ryan Mendoza is a music producer who recently moved to Ottawa from Vancouver. He kept busy with the strong music scene in Vancouver, but since coming to the capital has opened the door to musical theatre.

“I feel like Ottawa sometimes gets overlooked. I also learned that there’s this stigma when it comes to Ottawa that it’s boring,” says Mendoza. “There’s a lot of diamonds in the ruff, there’s a lot of gems.”

For Mendoza, he found one of those gems in The Lost Baggage Musical Theatre Company’s production of Guys and Dolls. The vibrant 1950s musical set in New York will hit the stage at the Arts Court Theatre in the downtown core from Apr. 25 to 28.

The Arts Court in Ottawa, 2 Daly Ave. (Wikimedia Commons)

Landing the role seems to have come with a stroke of luck.

New to the city, he recalls perusing Facebook looking to get into the music scene with some kind of audition. “Whether it was a singing competition or a play or musical,” he says.

When he saw the theatre company’s flyer, it was the very last day for auditions and time slots were all booked up. “I was like, might as well just ask them,” he says.

So he reached out to see if they had time to squeeze him in at the end of the night, and they said yes.

Mendoza says taking the chance paid off, and remembers when he got the call offering the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

“I got into my car, probably started screaming of joy,” he says.

It’s been eight years since he’s acted on stage, performing once for a musical in highschool. “Funny enough I didn’t know that the character had its own solo,” he says. “I’m always nervous, I’m definitely nervous for this one.”

Stubby Kaye performing “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” as Nicely-Nicely in the 1955 film adaptation of Guys and Dolls (Nicely D/YouTube)


But Mendoza adds that singing has played a significant role in his culture and family. “Phillipino culture, when it comes to showing their love and emotion, music is actually a huge part of that,” he says.

He hasn’t seen the 1955 film and is hoping to bring his own musical experience from his culture and living in Winnipeg and Vancouver to his performance as Nicely-Nicely.

“Even though production-wise I do R&B, I do hip hop, when it comes to the singing end I’m very heavy on Michael Bublé, Billy Joel, Frank Sintra,” says Mendoza. “So I would like to bring bits and pieces of each of those influences and somehow turn it into my own.”

Frank Sinatra pictured on the right for the 1955 film adaptation of Guys and Dolls.


Nicely-Nicely is a supporting character known for his comedic timing as a high-spirited, gambling lackey. This musical romantic comedy is centred around two unlikely pairings in Manhattan.

Mendoza says to expect a lot of comedy and dancing as the story of Nathan Detroit, as he tries to plan the biggest craps game in town with authorities on his tail and his girlfriend and nightclub performer Adelaide mourns the fact they’ve been engaged for 14 years.

Fans will also see the oddball coupling of the gambler Sky Masterson and the straight-laced, puritanical missionary Sarah Brown as they journey from Times Square to Havana.

For many, the production is considered a masterful classic. “The stakes are high,” says Mendoza.

He says he’s looking forward to showcasing Ottawa talent with Lost Baggage Musical Theatre Company.

“Even if the seats fill up, it doesn’t matter who it is as long as they enjoy the show at the end and if I can make an impact of any sort I’m good,” he says. “I’ll be satisfied.”


Listen to Ryan Mendoza’s conversation with CHUO here: