Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Guys And Dolls"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Guys And Dolls"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Norton Singers' summer production is "Guys And Dolls". The show is set in the colorful world of New York City in the 1950's. It is an entertaining tale of love, marriage, gambling and temperance on Damon Runyon's Broadway. While Nathan Detroit, operator of a legendary floating crap game evades marriage to Adelaide, his chorus girl fiancee of 14 years, high rolling Sky Masterson revels in his reputation as a notorious gambler and womanizer. But when Nathan bets Sky that even he can't sweep Sarah Brown, the prim mission lass off to Havana, everyone gets more than they bargained for. Ted Mitchell does a marvelous job directing this show and creates a very enjoyable evening of this classic musical comedy with a spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the show.

Ted infuses his huge cast with the frenetic energy and pacing needed to carry off this show. His blocking of his cast is excellent especially in the group scenes, making the scenes into picture postcard moments. Musical director Anthony Torelli conducts his terrific 13 piece orchestra and taught this difficult score to the performers. The standout choral numbers include "The Oldest Established", where the gamblers sound like a church choir while singing about their crap game, "Sit Down", where they get converted by dreaming about being washed overboard on a boat and the finale where the harmony soars in the title number by the whole cast. Judee Bottomley's choreography is excellent, too with the Havana tangos, the gamblers dance and the hatbox numbers. The set is by while the costumes are by Dan Gravely.

The conniving gambler Nathan Detroit is played by Chris DiOrio. He is hilarious with his many comic one liners and plays this head hoodlum with ease. Chris uses his strong tenor voice in "Oldest Established", "Sue Me" with Adelaide and in the "Adelaide" song near the close of the show. Janet Ferreri is a hoot as Adelaide, the dumb blonde bimbo who stays engaged to Nathan for 14 years. She is topnotch in the "Adelaide's Lament" number with the proper sneezing, wheezing and coughing. In her other two numbers, Janet uses her belting voice while she and the girls dance up a storm in "Bushel and A Peck" and in the striptease song "Take Back Your Mink".She is also hilarious in "Sue Me" when she beats the crap out of Nathan with her purse. Sky Masterson is played by Kevin Mischely. He tackles this role splendidly, making the transition from sinner to married man with ease. Kevin shows off his strong baritone voice in his description of his life in "My Time of Day", "Luck Be a Lady" while converting the gamblers, in the duets, "I'll Know" and my favorite song in the show "I Never Been in Love Before" with Sarah played by Esme Sammons. She is a gorgeous brunette with a fabulous soprano voice which soars off the scales in her songs, "Follow the Fold", "I'll Know", where she hits a high A and "Never Been in Love". Esme shows off her comic side in the Havana scene and in her drunken song "If I Were a Bell". She handles this straight laced role with a lot of spunk and charm and also does a dynamite humorous duet with Janet called "Marry the Man" about changing the guys after they marry them.

The three head gambles, Nicely-Nicely, Benny Southstreet and Harry the Horse are played by Robert Grady, Wayne Nettnay and Bob Molitor. Robert is clad in a brightly colored suit which fits the character's brassy energy. Nicely is constantly eating and running in and out of all the scenes. Robert handles this comic gem of a role wonderfully and sells the rollicking "Sit Down" to a very appreciative audience with his strong tenor voice. Wayne does a great job as Benny and he and Robert have great chemistry as Nathan's two sidekicks. They also do a terrific job with "Guys and Dolls", the title number where they sing how Dolls get Guys to do their bidding, wrapping them around their little finger. The Brooklyn hood, Harry who is a sidekick of Chicago gambler is beautifully played by Bob and he stomps his foot like a horse, obtaining many laughs. He delivers his funny one liners with finesse. The murderous Big Jule is played marvelously by Bill Yundt who demands that everyone keep playing craps with blank dice. Sarah's loving and protective uncle, Arvide is played by Pete Molitor. He shows off his vocal prowess in "More I Cannot Wish You", the loveliest song in the show, bringing it and the show the poignancy needed to balance the comic moments. Peter shows the strength of the character when he stands up to Sky, telling him if he doesn't deliver on his marker, Arvide will tell the whole town that Sky is a big welcher. Another comic performance is given by Michelle Yundt as General Cartwright who shows she is a person to be reckoned with and no one will defy her leadership position. The chorus numbers soar with the harmonic blend and power of this splendid chorus. So for a marvelous rendition of an old time classic musical, be sure to catch "Guys & Dolls" at Norton Singers. You won't be disappointed.

"Guys And Dolls" (3 - 11 June)
@ Wheaton College, 26 East Main Road, NORTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide