The first show of The Player's 106th season is "Guys and Dolls" and is set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City of the 1950's. It is an oddball romantic comedy, an entertaining tale of love, marriage and temperance on the Great White Way. It is about Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight "mission doll" out to reform the evil doers 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 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiancee, desperate as always to find a place for his infamous floating crap game. Veteran director, Cait Calvo, musical director, Ron Procopio and choreographer, Michael Maio pick the best 20 performers for these roles and infuse them with high energy from start to finish to entertain the very appreciative audience, winning them a standing ovation.
This production is dedicated to Ed Gnys who first directed the 1958 version and brought musicals to Players as a yearly tradition since then. Cait is aided in her task by set designer Roger Lemelin and costumer Robin Zola. They supply the colorful set and costumes for this show. Ron plays lead keyboard and conducts a four piece onstage orchestra as well as having taught the cast the intricate Frank Loesser score. The standout choral numbers include "The Oldest Established" where the gamblers sound like a church choir, "Luck Be a Lady'' when they are gambling in the sewer, "Sit Down" when they are converted and "Guys and Dolls" finale. Michael's fantastic dance numbers include the gamblers dance, the dance in Havanna and the Hot Box dances for the girls with a striptease and kickline in "Take Back Your Mink." The head conniving gambler Nathan Detroit is excellently played by Dennis Bouchard. He uses a Brooklyn accent and gives the role the pizzazz it needs. He has many comic lines and one of the funniest is "I got six mouths to feed on an A&P salary" but he also brings out the shifty side of Nathan in some of his shenanigans. Dennis displays his powerful voice in "Oldest Established" as well as "Sue Me" with Adelaide. Kerissa Roderick is very funny as Adelaide. She plays this dimbulb who stays engaged to Nathan for 14 years. Kerissa uses a Betty Boop voice in the role. She sings "Adelaide's Lament" with the proper sneezing and wheezing as well as singing and dancing up a storm with her girls in "Bushel and a Peck" and in the striptease number, "Take Back Your Mink." Also hilarious is the bridal shower scene when she wears kitchen utensils on her body.They have wonderful chemistry together as this wacky couple.
Nathan's gambling buddy, Sky Masterson is splendidly played by Alex Duckworth. He captures the essence of this character and is topnotch as Sky during his transition from sinner to married man. Alex's strong voice is heard in the contemplative "My Time of Day", in the conversion of the gambler's song "Luck Be a Lady" and in the two duets with Sarah, "I'll Know" and in "I've Never Been in Love Before", my favorite song in this show. This is a very poignant number and is splendidly rendered.Beautiful brunette Jennifer Jackson is excellent as Sarah. Her voice is terrific especially in "I'll Know" and is also lovely in "I've Never Been in Love Before." Jennifer handles the role with a lot of spunk and charm. Her funniest scene is the drunken Havana scene when she gets into a fight and sings the drunken "If I Were a Bell". Jennifer shines in her duets with Alex as well as in her duet with Kerissa called "Marry the Man" where they want to change the men after marriage. Both girls are hilarious in this song.
The head gambling buddies of Nathan, Nicely Nicely and Benny Southstreet are excellently played by Eddie Camara and Philip Dancourse. Eddie steals every scene he's in while eating a sandwich and making up excuses for Nathan's misbehavior. He stops the show in the eleventh hour number "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat." Eddie and Philip's voices soar in "Fugue for Tinhorns" as does Tom Lavallee's 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 wonderfully played by John Bergmark. He uses his marvelous voice in the loveliest song in the show "More I Cannot Wish You" where he wishes happiness and love for his granddaughter. It definitely tugs at your heartstrings. Other comic performers include Paul Oliver as the loudmouth, Harry the Horse, Sandy Remington as Big Jule, the cheating gambler from Chicago who rolls dice with no numbers on them,Roz Remington as General Cartwright and Michael Pugliese as Lieutenant Brannigan who tries to control the gamblers. He uses a fantastic Irish brogue. So for a fun filled version of "Guys and Dolls", be sure to catch this show at Players. To join this theater club, give Bill Applegate a call at 273-0590 or email him at Players1909@gmail.com.