“Guys and Dolls,” the second show of Maine State Musical Theatre’s 59th season, energetically opens with a kaleidoscope of plaid.

The colorfully costumed cast creates Runyonland, based on Damon Runyon’s less gritty version of New York City. A tour guide leads a group of sightseers across 42nd Street, pointing here, pointing there, getting autographs from a celebrity athlete, targeted by a pickpocket, and nearly crushed by a mass exodus of commuters and a red Salvation Army marching band. A police officer weaves artfully in and out of the crowds, chasing the thief, while hawkers sell hot dogs and newspapers.

This is where the bustle of New York hosts the hustle of gamblers.

Like the effect on a tourist visiting Times Square for the first time, the opening can be overwhelming and difficult for an audience member to know where to look. Lighting cues under the expert direction of lighting designer Annemarie Duggan and various melodies carried by the talented musicians directed by Brian Cimmet help attendees follow the action.

Director DJ Salisbury’s precise choreography of music, dancers, actors, and lighting brings the scene together like the well-timed mass coordination of metropolitan transit. No late buses or trains here.

The plot of “Guys and Dolls” is simple and firmly set in 1949. Prohibition is over. World War II has ended. For a white guy during this time, New York City has a great smell of success.

Sky Masterson has come to the Big Apple to take a small bite of that juicy fruit, though it may be slightly rotten from the seedy underworld of gambling.

No matter. Life is easy for our hero, played with utmost charm by a young and rakish Stephen Mark Lucas.

Sky meets up with con man Nathan Detroit, who is looking for enough dough to secure a new location to hold his illegal crap game. Where Lucas plays Sky real smooth, James Beaman gives Nathan the high-strung personality expected of a man always on the run from people wanting something from him, usually money.

Nathan bets Sky that he cannot make the next girl he sees fall in love with him. Too bad for Sky, thinks Nathan, here comes The Salvation Army marching band led by the head of Save-A-Soul Mission, Sgt. Sarah Brown. Can the honest gambler steal the girl’s heart?

One person Nathan half-heartedly avoids is his long-suffering girlfriend. The audience roared when Charis Leos stepped onstage as Adelaide, who has spent the past 14 years wheedling Nathan with her nasally Brooklyn accent to give her the last name Detroit. While their relationship isn’t the driving thrust of the show, every scene Leos and Beaman share proves love is worth betting on.

Can Sky get the girl or is she in on the bet like he thinks? Sgt. Sarah Brown is no naïve missionary, even if she does think Bacardi in milkshakes is the perfect antidote to calcium deficiency in children.

Looking like a dead ringer of Loretta Young, Kristen Hahn plays Sarah with a beguiling mix of sardonic innocence. She offers quick rebuffs to Sky’s advances while seducing him like Salome with her virginal Vienna choir boy’s stunning soprano.

Hahn’s comedic timing, which is subdued elsewhere in the show even when it shouldn’t be, steps forward during her key moment in Havana when she sings, “If I were A Bell,” with the choreography adding some slapstick humor to the touching proclamation of love.

Stealing the spotlight anytime he is on stage, Steve Gagliastro is the perfect bumbling two-bit criminal Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Keep an eye out for his tremendous trombone solo in the titular song.

Some set and technical difficulties the opening night of the show should be resolved. The only questionable artistic direction of note is the scene three phone booth that crosses from one side of the stage to the other in fits and starts. The distracting motion made it difficult to focus on Nicely-Nicely’s lines.

Brad Bradley and Raymond Marc Dumont as Benny Southstreet and Rusty Charlie, respectively, join Gagliastro as the trio of goons looking for a crap game. Beaman, Gagliastro, Dumont and Bradley’s voices blend far far better than their (purposely) clashing outfits. They’re no angels except when they sing.

Also note Glenn Anderson as Arvide Abernathy, a grandfather figure to Sgt. Sarah. Anderson sings her a lovely song, “More I Cannot Wish You,” which he fills with heartfelt tenderness. Here’s hoping to see more from this character actor in the future.

Speaking of devilish thoughts, Miss Adelaide is a lead burlesque dancer at the Hot Box and Leos gets to strut her stuff — and shake her ta-tas — in the quintessential song, “A Bushel and a Peck.”

The costumes for this number are creative and fun; half the girls are farmers and the other half farm animals, but sexy — if a baby lamb can be sexy. Somehow costume designer Ryan Moller made it so. The costumes for the girls’ later number, “Take Back Your Mink,” were not as successful. The pink hobble dresses tear away to nude and black lingerie, rather risque yet unalluring as taupe looks good on no one. The men’s eye-catching plaid outfits were reminiscent of the African-American zoot suits of the time and bring a riot of color to the iconic ensemble dance number, Luck Be a Lady.

Considered to be a perfect musical comedy when it debuted on Broadway in 1950, “Guys and Dolls” is based on two Damon Runyon short stories, with book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.

Considered a canon of musical theater, “Guys and Dolls” is making its return to Pickard Theater after 16 years. Odds are you will enjoy the show.

“Guys and Dolls” runs through July 15 at Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick. Ticket information is available here.