Theatre Mirror Reviews "Guys And Dolls"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Guys And Dolls"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Community Players current show is "Guys and Dolls" which is set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City in the 1950's. It is an entertaining, oddball romantic musical tale of love, marriage and temperance on Broadway. It is about Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight "mission doll" out to reform the evildoers of Times Square; Sky Masterson, the slick, high rolling gambler who woos her on a bet and ends up falling in love; Adelaide, the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she's been engaged to the same man for fourteen years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiance, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game. Director Tim Reid infuses his talented 26 member cast with the frenetic energy and pacing as well as with his brilliant choreography to garner them a standing ovation on a job very well done.

Tim's blocking of his cast is excellent especially in the big group scenes. He also works wonders with the astounding choreography in the opening sequence, the gamblers dance, the Havana dance and the two Hotbox dance numbers. Tim is also an excellent dancer who appears in the gambler's dance, "Luck Be a Lady" and "Sit Down" number. He is aided in his task by musical director Ron Procopio who conducts a five piece orchestra and taught the cast the intricate Frank Loesser score. The standout choral numbers include "The Oldest Established" where the gamblers sound like a church choir while singing about their crap game, "Luck Be a Lady", "Sit Down" where they get converted by being washed overboard and in "Guys and Dolls" finale where the harmonies soar by the entire cast. The colorful sets are by Brian Mulvey constructed by Victor Turene while the gorgeous multitude of 1950's costumes are by Pam Jackson and topnotch lighting is by Dan Fisher.

The conniving gambler Nathan Detroit is Ed Benjamin. He does a marvelous job with his many comic lines, playing the head hoodlum with a lot of pizzazz. Ed commands the stage in this role. One of his funniest lines is "I got six mouths to feed on an A&P salary." Ed displays his powerful voice in "The Oldest Established" with the guys and in "Sue Me" with Adelaide. He also brings out the shifty side of Nathan, too. The Betty Boop type blonde, Adelaide is splendidly played by Tim's gorgeous wife, Taryn Mallard Reid. She steals many a scene as this dim bulb who stays engaged to Nathan for 14 years. Taryn displays her belting singing voice in "A Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink" with the chorus girls while dancing up a storm with them. She sings "Adelaide's Lament" perfectly with the proper wheezing, coughing and sneezing antics to invoke gales of laughter. Taryn is a hoot in "Sue Me" where she beats the crap out of Nathan with her purse. Ed and Taryn give winning performances as this comic duo.

Nathan's gambling buddy, Sky is played by Erich Dethlefsen. Erich's voice is heard in his contemplative "My Time of Day", in the conversion of the gamblers song "Luck Be a Lady" and in his duets with Sarah, "I'll Know" and "I've Never Been in Love Before", my favorite song in the show. Christina Masson, a pretty red head is Sarah. She has a soprano voice which she shows off  in "I'll Know" and "I've Never Been in Love Before." Christina handles this straight laced role with spunk and charm. She is also hilarious in the drunken Cuban dancing and fighting scene as well as in the drunken "If I Were a Bell." Christina does a nice job in her duets with Erich as well as her duet with Taryn called "Marry the Man" about changing the men after they get married which is an hilarious number.

The head gambling buddies of Nathan, Nicely Nicely and Benny Southstreet are wonderfully played by Ken McPherson and Michael Martins. Ken steals many a scene while eating and making excuses for Nathan's bad behavior. He stops the show in the eleventh hour number "Sit Down Your Rockin' the Boat" where Tim's choreography stops the show with its brilliance. Ken and Michael's voices soar in "Fugue For Tinhorns'' with Tom Desjarlais as Rusty Charlie and in their duet of "Guys and Dolls." They have great chemistry as Nathan's sidekicks. Sarah's kindly grandfather, Arvide is beautifully played by Brian Lamothe. He sings the loveliest song in the show "More I Cannot Wish You." Other comic performers include Paul Oliver as the big mouth, Harry the Horse, Stephen Dias as Big Jule, the cheating gambler from Chicago who plays with no dots on his dice, Kim Rau Harper as General Cartwright, the strict woman who wants to close down the mission and Joe Wilkicki as Lt. Brannigan who tries to control the gamblers. So for a fantastic rendition of this classic show, be sure to catch "Guys and Dolls'' at Community Players before the show dances its way out of town.

"Guys And Dolls" (10 - 26 April)
@ Jenks Junior High School, Division Street, PAWTUCKET RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide