note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
GUYS AND DOLLS is a musical you could see a thousand times and not tire of the gorgeous Frank Loesser songs or the hilarious “tough guy” comedy. Damon Runyon’s famous “Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York” (adapted by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows) yields adorably wacky lines like Nathan Detroit’s efforts to keep the wise guys mum around his fiancé about shooting craps: “If Adelaide finds out, she’ll never set foot on me again.” And the self same Miss Adelaide gets a brilliant bit of funny business from being engaged for fourteen years without a wedding. Once (and a short reprise) is just not enough for Adelaide’s spectacular Lament, especially in the facile hands of comedienne Peri Chouteau. If you miss her Miss Adelaide, you’ve missed the boat.
The Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton scores a big fat hit with their valentine to old Times Square. Director Robert Jacobs fills the production with boisterous energy and clever extras, like an appearance by Ed Sullivan (Steve Phillips will have you remembering Ed’s promise of a “really big shoe”). Each character has pizzazz to spare, from Jonathan Popp’s hardnosed Big Julie to Harry Rothman’s kvetchy Nathan. Rothman and Chouteau are an adorable comic pair. The serious folk have a more difficult row to hoe because they’re not [as] funny. Sarah Powell and Aaron Velthouse are musically, as well as romantically matched, making us root for them all the more. There isn’t a false note in the whole production.
Robert Vanaria, Matthew Broadhurst and Popp make the gambler’s opening fugue sizzle and Vanaria’s show stopping “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” is yet another vessel you’ll be sorry you missed. Wayne Ward’s brassy, sassy orchestra of six sounds like a whole pit full of musicians. Karen Fogerty’s cheeky choreography for the chicks (outfitted in Richard Itzcak’s yellow chicklet, feathery gear) and her tumbling hi-jinks for the gamblers give the show extra luster. Richard Danehy’s nostalgic Broadway lights are brightened by John MacKenzie. Forget the Sopranos. GUYS AND DOLLS will take you back to the time when felons had hearts of gold and a good woman could “marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow.” Oh, for the good old days when Luck was a Lady. GUYS AND DOLLS runs, jumps, taps and sings until June 5th.