Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Guys & Dolls"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


Guys & Dolls

Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burroughs
Based on a story & Characters of Damon Runyon
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Choreography by Kim Luke
Musical Direction by Jonathan Goldberg

Sets Designed by Robert M. Russo
Costumes designed by Jana Durland Howland
Lighting Designed by Yael Lubetzky
Stage Manager Tina Zola

Nicely-Nicely Johnson..............Neil A. Casey
Benny Southstreet................Kamau M. Hashim
Rusty Charlie.................Anthony Huntington
Sarah Brown.....................Alisun Armstrong
Arvide Abernathy....................Dared Wright
Harry The Horse...................Geoffrey Burns
Lt. Brannigan.......................Steve Rotolo
Nathan Detroit......................Robert Saoud
Angie-The-Ox.......................Chris Gaucher
Miss Adelaide.....................Maryann Zschau
Sky Masterson...................Christopher Swan
Joey Biltmore.......................JH Williston
Laverne.....................Stephanie M. Lessard
Honey.................................Kate Kelly
Clarise..........................Bethany Cassidy
Peachy........................Dana Marie Zihlman
Elvira...............................Stacia Anti
General Matilda B. Cartwright.....Ellen Peterson
Big Jule...............................Zane Gray
Society Max........................Britton White
Liver Lips Louie................Miguel Cervantes
Nubsy Taylor..........................Matt Jones
Scranton Slim.....................Joseph Johnson
Gaucho...............................Emile Colon

Keyboards....................................Jonathan Goldberg
Reeds..................................Louis Toth, Ray Taranto
Trumpet.............................................Tom Duprey
Bass............................................Robert Simring
Percussion.....................................Wendy Greenwood


The first show I ever saw on Broadway was the closing night of "Guys & Dolls" --- 45 years ago, when I was twenty. And just this week, maybe as a birthday gift, Spiro Veloudos and The Publick Theatre have dusted off the old warhorse and made it completely, delightfully new again. I don't know how they do it.

Part of it is the seventeen summers that Spiro and Deborah Schoenberg have been giving Boston plays outdoors by the Charles River; part of it is picking good shows; part of it is casting good people who are "pleased to be back at" or "delighted to be working with". But then there are always those unexpected, oh so perfect details.

As an instance, when Miss Adelaide ("the famous fiancee") reads of the psychosomatic sniffles she's acquired from her fourteen-year engagement she needs reading-glasses, and when she gets to the line "from a lack of community property and a feeling she's getting too old..." there are those glasses, waved in her hand, to prove it. Maybe it was Maryann Zschau's idea to play it that way. It was Spiro let her keep it in.

And when Brother Abernathy whispers to the gambler "You better make good on your marker for twelve sinners at our revival meeting, or I'm telling everyone you're a dirty rotten welcher!" was it Dared Wright who decided to look away and shout the last two words first at a passing gambler, then directly to the audience?

There are pauses in strange places here, sudden shifts from loud histrionic argument to nearly inaudible statements of emotional fact --- the sort of shifts to searing truth that you'd expect in serious drama, not a frothy little musical. The implausible cardboard characters keep turning into people at the oddest moments, then making everyone laugh despite the tears in their eyes. When Christoper Swan as Sky insists he never took Sarah Brown to Cuba as he'd bet he could, when Alisun Armstrong as Sarah hears about that lie, their playing arises out of the very human cores of both these oddly unwilling lovers. And Alisun does it with a stage-cross and no lines at all, but everyone knows what's going on.

Well, theater is really a group effort, and nobody ever knows who's to blame or who's to praise for anything that happens on that stage. But The Publick has been doing three shows a summer for seventeen years now, and Shakespeare or Sondheim or Damon Runyon or what, those same sort of surprisingly right details keep showing up.

Maybe it's just that Spiro Veloudos happens to know a hell of a lot of good, imaginative actors.

You think that could be it?

Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark)

"Guys & Dolls" (till 31 August)
PUBLICK THEATRE
Christian A Herter Park, 1175 Soldiers Field Road, BRIGHTON
1(617)782-5425
Check their website
and Beverly Creasey's Minority Report

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | CURTAIN | USHER | INTERMISSION |