note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
Luck is definitely a lady at North Shore Music Theatre’s (NSMT) happy-go-lucky, song-and-dance production of “Guys and Dolls,” which will end successfully, on a high note, Nov. 11.
Despite obstacles from Hurricane Sandy, NSMT didn’t have to gamble on whether theatergoers would brave the elements and their aftermath. With Mark Martino’s deft direction, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows’ fun-filled musical that boasts 22 Damon Runyon Prohibition Era-saints and sinners, heavy rollers and holy rollers, in the streets, strip clubs, sewers, and sermonizing-strolling missions of naughty, nostalgic New York City, keeps ‘em coming.
The show’s a sure bet, given Frank Loesser’s songs, which dominate Broadway’s greatest all-time hits, with “Fugue for Tinhorns;” “I’ll Know;” title song, “Guys and Dolls;” “Luck Be a Lady;” and others, performed by a sensational, vibrant cast.
Owner Bill Hanney II went all out, featuring national and Broadway headliners and supporting Equity singers and dancers. He also sneaked in local color, with performers like former Beverlyite, New York City-based James Beaman, portraying bubble-gum chewing gambler Rusty Charlie. Beaman, 47, grew up in a theatrical family, and visited NSMT as a child, never dreaming he’d one day perform on its stage.
Beaman toured with the national theater company of “Spamalot,” created and starred in his own cabaret show nationally and in Europe, and also appeared in several regional, community and professional productions. Besides his own role, Beaman was the understudy for Nathan Detroit (Jonathan Hammond) and Benny Southstreet (Ben Roseberry).
This classic, tongue-in-cheek tale of unlikely lovers --- Sky Masterson, a notorious, lovestruck, Bible-spouting reformed gambler-turned-missionary, and Sarah Brown, his saintly, unspoiled, naive soul-saving mission lady --- is delightful.
The subplot romance of gambler Nathan Detroit, who’s left his 14-year, showgirl fiancee, Miss Adelaide, dangling while he perennially searches for sites to hold the next floating craps game, adds lots of laughs. In several of her numbers, Mylinda Hull as long-suffering, cold-afflicted Miss Adelaide, earned thunderous applause, but her duet with Detroit (Hammond) as he pleas, “Sue Me,” but don’t leave me, is especially endearing.
Popular NSMT favorite Wayne W. Pretlow as affable gambler Nicely Nicely Johnson rocked the house to its circular rooftop with his rollicking rendition of “Sit Down, You‘re Rockin‘ the Boat,” and veteran performer Jamie Ross as Sarah’s loving grandfather, Arvide Abernathy, shares a touching moment with her when he advises her to pursue her love, in “More I Cannot Wish You”.
As Sarah, Kelly McCormick unleashes her sterling soprano in every number, but lets her hair down and her voice soar romantically in “I’ll Know” and “If I Were a Bell”. Although her voice blends harmonically with Kevin Vortmann as Sky Masterson, he stiffly lacks that loving feeling during romantic numbers.
No worries, though. Under Craig Barna’s fabulous leadership, the orchestra makes every number a winner. Paula Peasley-Ninestein’s vivid, jewel-tone, striped and plaid suits with matching fedoras and sexy showgirl costumes and Erik Diaz’s dazzling lit marquee and Big Apple bright lights are brilliant eye candy. And Michael Lichtefeld’s athletic, balletic choreography is poetry in motion