Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Guys And Dolls"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


"Guys And Dolls"

Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Based on a Story & Characters by Damon Runyon
Directed by Robert J. Eagle and Eileen Grace
Choreographed by Eileen Grace
Musical Directors Julia I. Lieu and Jeffrey P. Leonard

Scenic Design by James William Walton
Costume Design by William Ivy Long
Lighting Design by David Wilson
Production Stage Manager Sheron Thorp

Nicely-Nicely Johnson...................Paul Stickney
Benny Southstreet..........................Brad Walters
Rusty Charlie/Hot Box MC..........Nathan Croner
Sarah Brown...............................Elizabeth Walsh
Arvide Abernathy............Andre Solomon-Glover
Agatha............................Shonna Ann McEachern
Martha..........................................Siobhaun Moss
Calvin/Waiter..................................Jason McCool
Harry The Horse.................................Roy Earley
Lieutenant Brannigan......................John Marshall
Nathan Detroit.........................Harold W. Walker
Angie The Ox.............................A. John Porcaro
Miss Adelaide..............................Martina Vidmar
Sky Masterson............................George Dvorsky
Joey Biltmore.............................John H. Defusco
Mimi..............................................Loriann Freda
General Matilda B Cartwright.....Janelle Robinson
Big Jule.............................Robert E. Withrow, Jr.
Drunk...............................................Roy M. Raja
Waiters.............................................Ryan Landry

GUYS
Keith Fortner, Kevin F. Hilll, Sean Kilbridge, Jeffrey Kwong, Sean McLaughlin, Bob Pascucci, Andrew Swansburg, Jason Tannner, Keith Veno, Doug Vermes

DOLLS
Melanie Allen, Jill Branelly, Kristin M. Brophy, Valerie Kramer, Amanda Marcou, Katie McCue, Wendy Pasquale, Jennifer Turey


The problem is not whether "Guys And Dolls" will wow the audience --- it always does. The problem is how Robert J. Eagle and Eileen Grace and The Reagle Players will make this Broadway classic work in their own unique way.

Their approach is broad, mining the styles and solidly rhythmic drumming of Burlesque. The jokes are by now quaint, anachronistic takes on courtship, long engagements, marriage, and love. At Reagle these are presented to the audience as opportunities for broad playing, throw-aways, and theatrical roundhouse swings. Martina Vidmar as Adelaide ("The well-known fiancee") exploits a joyous squeek as the scantily-clad leader of the tawdry Hot-Box Girls, and drops into low-low registers periodically while arguing with her unwilling 14-year engagement partner. The guys stand in their awning-colored zoot-suits making their characters charmingly unreal by deliberate, orotund readings of classic lines much of the audience can recite along with the actors. The show was always called "A Musical Fable of Broadway" and everyone treats it, always, as slightly unreal.

Everyone, that is, except Elizabeth Walsh as Sarah Brown, the "Mission Doll" who fails utterly to save the soul of Broadway in her Salvation Army uniform. Walsh is much more Method in her approach, delivering every line with an achingly honest reality. Her frustration at her Mission's failures, her frustration at falling in love with a gambler, her uninhibited fling into alcoholic sultriness on a day-trip to Cuba, her grudging acceptance of the necessities for marriage --- she approaches all of them with a sincerity as out of synch with the rest of the cast as her character is with the charming four-flushers she preaches at.

And it all works. It always works. "Guys And Dolls" may be as outdatedly sexist as "The Taming of The Shrew" but is as much a classic --- and the Frank Loesser score, sung and danced-to to perfection here, is as fresh and funny today as it was back in 1952, when I attended the closing night of its long original Broadway run. All anyone has to do is wind it up and set it onstage, and audiences love it.

Love,
===Anon.


"Guys And Dolls" (till 17 July)
REAGLE PLAYERS
617 Lexington Strteet, WALTHAM
1(781)891-5600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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