Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Guys And Dolls"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Beverly Creasey

The Publick Theatre's
"Guys And Dolls"
A Surefire Winner

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Every musical has its appeal, but "Guys and Dolls" is a non-stop delight ... and the Bublick Theatre's high-spirited production of the Frank Loesser masterpiece hits every step on the way from pickin' ponies to matrimony.

These loveable thugs will gamble on anything and anywhere ... which is why "the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York" is a sure bet for Boston theatregoers this summer. Director Spiro Veloudos' company has never been more polished ... from Jonathan Goldberg's sassy, note-perfect orchestra to Robert Russo's snazzy, faux-neon Times Square set to Kim Luke's sharp, eye-popping choreography, this "Guys and Dolls" is sheer unadulterated fun.

You always root for Sky Masterson (Christopher Swan) to get the gal (Alisun Armstrong), but Swan is such a dashing romeo (with a voice just as seductive) and Armstrong so charming that for once the romantic leads aren't overshadowed by the comic characters. Swan lets Sky's "common decency" shine through his "high-roller" persona early enough so we don't fear for Miss Sarah even thoug she's the object of a bet; Armstrong negotiates the transformation from prudish to wildly smitten with considerable aplomb.

Maryann Zschau plays the ditsy Adelaide with a clever twist. She's after our hearts as well as our funnybones, and it works. You can hear a collective sigh from the audience when she thinks Nathan will never ante up and marry her. Robert Saoud has never been funnier. He gives Nathan a little extra dopiness, a slight physical hesitation which makes their love-match a perfect fit, and his silly retorts even more hilarious.

The sporting underworld characters, too, have a grand tie in their flashy suits (by Jana Durland Howland). There's Kamau M. Hashim as the earnest Benny Southstreet; Neil A. Casey as the riotous, squeeky-voiced Nicely-Nicely (whose rendintion of "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat" is a triumph); Geoffrey Burns as a huffy Harry The Horse; Britton White as a dandy Society Max; and Zane Gray as the adorably imposing Big Jule. All the gambler characters are (you should pardon the expression) gangbusters.

Wonderful performances, too, from Steve Rotolo as the hard-boiled cop on the beat; from Ellen Peterson as the formidable Salvation Army general; Dared Wright as Miss Sarah's kindly uncle; JH Williston in a number of nifty roles and, last but not least, kudos to the dancers for their fluid precision in the Havana ballet, evocatively lit by Yael Lubetsky. As Sarah so nicely (nicely) puts it: "If I were a bell, I'd be ringing."

"Guys & Dolls" (till 31 August)
Christian A Herter Park, 1175 Soldiers Field Road, BRIGHTON
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Read Larry Stark's review

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