Guys and Dolls, book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser; produced by Starlight Theatre: seen July 12, 2011
Note: you’ll notice this post is entitled ‘write-up’, not ‘review’, although it’s tagged review. That’s because due to an oncoming storm, the show was halted in the middle of the first act – just after the title song was sung – and eventually cancelled. Since I won’t get another chance to see this production, this is just my thoughts on what I did see. As a result, this review is not being posted anywhere but on this blog.
Guys and Dolls is a very stylized musical. While I’m sure when it premiered in 1950 the show was played as a genuine theatrical outing with the characters being portrayed as ‘real’ characters, in the world of 2011 it’s more about the idea of the show itself and the characters and plot being bigger than life.
The basic plot follows gangster Guy Masterson’s bet to get Save-a-Soul missionary Sarah Brown to go to Havana with him. Meanwhile, a subplot involves Nathan Detroit’s attempt to get a place for his floating crap game, and his involvement with his fiancé for 14 years, Adelaide.
In the middle of the Overture, the rusty Guys and Dolls sign lights up and then moves into the always-impressive fly space of Starlight, and the show starts giving us the various characters that inhabit this imaginary world.
The show did an excellent job of using the wing and fly space allotted to them, making scene changes almost balletic, and I loved the fact that the T in Hotbox (the club where Adelaide ‘dances’) is also the cross of the mission – giving a wonderful dichotomy between the two worlds of ‘saints’ and ‘sinners’. There were some sound issues, as usual, but I give them a pass this time as it was definitely caused by the wind and the oncoming storm.
Steve Rosen, as Nathan Detroit, did a good job, playing the role with more than a hint of Jon Lovitz in his heyday of SNL. Erin Davie, as Sarah Brown, wasn’t impressing me so far, her opera in “I’ll Know” not quite fitting in with Ben Crawford’s Sky. The two didn’t have much chemistry, but having not seen the whole show, I can’t tell if that was intentional – after all, they aren’t supposed to like each other yet. Crawford was doing a fine job, and he looked and sounded VERY familiar to me, but when looking over his website, nothing popped up as to why. And I’m still debating what I think of Glenn Rainey’s Nicely Nicely Johnson, as the character was over the top, but in the style of the show.
Finally, Megan Sikora as Adelaide was the highlight of the production so far. Her rendition of “Bushel and a Peck” was horrendously awesome, putting my teeth on edge with every squeak. It was the best burlesque I’ve seen in a long time! And the wonderfully comic “Adelaide’s Lament” was so good, the wind worked with her. (Seriously – it felt like the wind was being choreographed, billowing her dress in just the right way to give the heartfelt rendition just the right amount of dramatic tension.)
I’ll give the show the best compliment I can think of: I really wish I could’ve seen the whole production. It was shaping up quite nicely.
Guys and Dolls is playing at Starlight Theatre until July 17, and more information can be found at www.kcstarlight.com.