Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Guys & Dolls"

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entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"Guys & Dolls"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Chariho Players spring production of "Guys & Dolls" is set against the color of New York City in the 1950's. It is an entertaining tale of love, marriage 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. Director Maureen Noel directs her 23 member cast of 18 students and 5 adults with an expert hand at getting the best out of everyone to create an evening of enjoyable musical comedy entertainment.

Maureen takes this enormous show and whips it into shape with skillful precision of her teaching experience. She is aided in this huge task by Alison Shea, her musical director and Carol Allen, her choreographer. Alison not only plays the entire score wonderfully, backed up by a guitar player and a percussionist, but she teaches this difficult music to the performers, too. The standout choral numbers include the finale, "The Oldest Established" and "Sit Down, You're Rockin the Boat". Alison does excellent work on the solos and duets, getting the intricate harmonies to blend together. Carol works wonders with the Havana tangos, the gamblers dance and the 2 Hot Box numbers, too. (Her dancing girls are excellent and she gets the expertise of professional choreographer, Jackie Granja in her chorus line.) Carol uses a mixture men and women in the dance line of the gambling sequence to make it not only humourous but well done at the same time. Moe, Alison and Carol teach these students how to be creative and put their best foot forward to earn them a well deserved ovation by show's end. (Donna D. does a great job running the lights.) >P> The shifty gambler, Nathan is played by Billy McCusker and his Betty Boop ladylove, Adelaide is played by Eliza Martin. Billy brings out the funny and sinister side of his character and does very well in his kissing scenes with Eliza. Eliza uses a funny speaking voice in her role and sings her Lament song perfectly with the proper sneezing, wheezing and coughing in it. She and Billy handle "Sue Me" with ease and she and the dancing girls are a hoot in the barnyard number, "Bushel & a Peck" and in the sexy dance number, "Take Back Your Mink". Nathan's gambling compatriot, Sky is played by Preston Lawhorne Jr. and his mission doll, Sarah is played by Chantal Gagnon. Preston and Chantal have wonderful, singing voices and they sell their ballads, "I've Never Been in Love Before" and "I'll Know", to the crowd. Preston also gives a powerful song delivery in "Luck Be a Lady" when he convinces the gamblers to attend a mission meeting. Chantal delivers a funny side in "If I Were a Bell", after she drinks too much in Havana and gets into a brawl there. These four actors do a great job in their roles.

The three head gamblers, Nicely Nicely, Benny Southstreet and Harry the Horse are played by Adam Newman, Joshua Sayer and Marc Gagnon. (Chantal's twin brother) Adam steals all his scenes as the always eating or drinking Nicely. He is hilarious and delivers the goods with the best song in the show, "Rockin the Boat". He and Joshua do a great job on the title song and have good chemistry as Nathan's top two sidekicks. Marc does a good job in his second show as a loudmouth person in the mission scene and as Big Jule's friend in the gambling scene.

Sarah's grandfather is played by her real life father, Steve. He gets to sing the loveliest song in the show, "More I Cannot Wish You". His sidekick in the mission is played by Kendra Johnson as the strict General who wants to increase the amount of people saved in NYC. (Only a junior, she does a great job doubling as a drunken bum, guzzling from a paper bag.) Two other adults, Mike Alfieri and Dorothy Riley play the roles of Lt. Brannigan and Big Jule, the hoodlum from Chicago. Mike tries to keep order in this city without much success and Dorothy carries a gun and a mean attitude to keep the game going till she wins back her money with her own dice. Both of them handle their roles very well. The other assorted gamblers, mission people and hot box dolls are played by Sean O'Brien, Kaitlyn Alfieri, Gayle Kamradt, Preston Lawhorne Sr., Allyson Holbrook, Marlena Kurko, Crystal Guilbert, Jackie Granja, Makaila Gallup, Lori Lawhorne, Bethany Gagnon and Allison Lassor.

So for an enjoyable evening of talented high schoolers and friends, be sure to catch this show at Chariho Middle School before time runs out.

"Guys & Dolls" (till 11 May)
Chariho Middle School, Switch Road, RICHMOND, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 741-3477

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide