Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Guys And Dolls"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"Guys And Dolls"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

NSMT's current show is "Guys & Dolls". Set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City in the 1950's, is an oddball romantic comedy, an entertaining 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 Time 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 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiance, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game. Director Mark Martino infuses his talented cast with the frenetic energy and pacing to garner them a standing ovation at their expert rendition of this classic musical. This version contains the best choreography I have ever seen in "Guys & Dolls".P> Mark's blocking of his cast is excellent especially in the large group scenes. He creates many picture postcard moments along the way. He is aided by musical director, Craig Barna who conducts a ten piece orchestra and taught his 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 on a boat and the "Guys & Dolls'' finale where the harmonies soar by the entire cast. Michael Lichtefeld's choreography is astounding, too. He works wonders in the opening sequence led by terrific dancer, Justin Urso who ushers the audience into Runyonland as well as terrific choreography in the Gamblers dance sequence, the Havana dance segment and the Hot Box numberswith a tap dance for "Bushel & a Peck" and a striptease type dance for "Take Back Your Mink". All the costumes are topnotch especially the colorful men's zoot suits by costumer,Paula Peasley-Ninestein.

The conniving gambler, Nathan Detriot is played by Broadway veteran Jonathan Hammond who appeared in "Ragtime". He does a marvelous job as Nathan with his many comic lines, playing the head hoodlum with pizzazz and a fantastic Brooklyn accent. One of his funniest lines is "I got six mouths to feed on an A&P salary".Jonathan displays his powerful voice in "Oldest Established" and "Sue Me" with Adelaide. He also brings out the shifty side to Nathan's many shenanigans, too. The Betty Boop type dumb blonde, Adelaide is splendidly played by Mylinda Hull. This dim bulb stays engaged to Nathan for 14 years. Mylinda sings "Adelaide's Lament" perfectly with the proper sneezing, wheezing and coughing in it. She displays a terrific belting sound in her numbers. Mylinda and the girls dance up a storm with marvelous tapping in the song "Bushel and A Peck" and in the striptease song "Take Back Your Mink". They give winning performances as this comic duo.

Nathan's gambling buddy, Sky Masterson is played by Kevin Vortmann who is tall, dark and handsome. He captures the essence of the character and is fantastic in this role especially in Sky's transition from sinner to married man. Kevin's terrific tenor voice is heard in his contemplative "My Time of Day" and in the conversion of the hoodlums 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. This number is very poignant. He gives a far superior performance as Sky than Marlon Brando in the movie version. I last reviewed Kevin as Smudge in "Forever Plaid" at NSMT in 2007. Kelly McCormick, a gorgeous brunette, is terrific as Sarah Brown. She has a magnificent soprano voice which soars off the charts in all her songs especially "I'll Know" which goes up to a high C and "I've Never Been in Love Before''. She handles this straight laced role with a lot of spunk and charm. Kelly is hilarious in the drunken Cuban scene when she gets into a fight and handles the drunken song "If I Were a Bell" wonderfully, too. She shines in her duets with Kevin as well as in her duet with Mylinda called "Marry The Man" about changing the two men after marriage where both gals are hilarious. These four leading performers do a fabulous job in these demanding roles.

The head gambling buddies of  Nathan, Nicely Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet are excellently played by Wayne Pretlow and Ben Roseberry. Wayne constantly steals every scene he is in while eating and giving excuses for Nathan's behavior and is funny in the Havana scene when he brings a toy plane out to portray Sky and Sarah's trip to Cuba. He stops the show with the eleventh hour number "Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat". Michael's expert choreography has to be seen to be believed in this number. Wayne and Ben's voices soar in "Fugue for Tinhorns" with James Beaman and in their "Guys & Dolls" duet. They have great chemistry as Nathan's sidekicks. Sarah's kindly grandfather, Arvide is wonderfully played by Jamie Ross. He sings the loveliest song in the show, "More I Cannot Wish You". I last saw Jamie in "Woman of the Year" with Lauren Bacall at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. Other comic performers include Ben Liebert as the big mouth, Harry the Horse, Steve Greenstein as Big Jule, the cheating gambler from Chicago who plays with no dots on his dice, Jessica Sheridan as General Cartwright, the strict woman who wants to close down the mission but has a fun time in "Sit Down" scene and Michael Scott as Lt. Brannigan who tries to control the gamblers. Kudos to the talented men and women in this cast who create a musical masterpiece with this show. So for a phenomenal version of "Guys &  Dolls", run to the box office before the show dances out of town. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Guys And Dolls" (30 October - 11 November)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
@ 62 Dunham Road,BEVERLY MA
1(978)232-7200

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