Rockin' the boat and enjoying 'Guys & Dolls'Published: Monday, April 22, 2013 7:00 am By: James F. Cotter Source: Times Herald Record
ELMSFORD — "Luck Be a Lady Tonight": Thursday's opening night of "Guys & Dolls" proved to be a lucky night for the audience at the Westchester Broadway Theatre with a high-voltage song-and-dance revival of the 1950 Frank Loesser hit musical.
Based on the stories by Damon Runyon about New York City gamblers and those who love them or want to reform them from their wayward ways, the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows is topical, lively and literate. It is Loesser's lyrics and music, however, that have made this a Broadway classic that keeps coming back for each generation. It's been justly subtitled "A Musical Fable of Broadway."
Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, with musical direction by Jihwan Kim, the production features a company of 19 talented singers and dancers who make the title song a celebration of Manhattan characters in prohibition days. Sky Masterson will bet on anything with or without a roll of the dice; Nathan Detroit runs a floating crap game; Nicely-Nicely Johnson warns "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" at a revivalist meeting; Sarah Brown wants to draw sinners to the Save-A-Soul Mission; and Miss Adelaide is a showgirl who dreams of marrying Nathan and settling down in a white-picketed house in the suburbs.
Masterson is played by Gary Lynch as a flashy high roller ("Luck Be a Lady") who has his own way with the guys and bets Nathan that he can get a date with Sgt. Brown to take her to Havana. Much to his own surprise, he falls in love with her. As Sarah, Courtney Glass shifts from strict religious fervor to upbeat, tipsy response in "If I Were a Bell." Their duet, "I've Never Been in Love Before," marks a romantic climax that later hits some shaky reversals but ends happily.
Adelaide is embodied by Allie Schauer as a delightful glamour-girl who belts out "A Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink" with the Hot Box Girls. Her "Adelaide's Lament" is personal and funny ("A person could develop a cold"). As Nathan, Michael Brian Dunn finally admits his love for Adelaide in a comic exchange, "Sue Me." Jayson Elliott makes Nicely-Nicely an engaging gambler who converts to a spirited reformer.
In other roles, Laura Cable lends authority and humanity to Gen. Cartwright who comes to close down the mission, and Jody Cole Wood makes Lt. Brannigan a persistent bloodhound hunting down Nathan's crap game. Sheldon Henry as Benny Southstreet and Jonathan Stahl as Rusty Charlie join Elliott for an opening "Fugue for Tinhorns." while Matthew Dailey as Angie the Ox and Thomas Roy as Harry the Horse join forces with Nathan and others for a rousing "The Oldest Established." Jeff Brooks is Big Jule, a gun-packing crapshooter from Chicago, and Tony Triano is Arvide Abenathy, an elderly drummer for the mission who advises Sarah with "More I Cannot Wish You." Ensemble numbers include a rhythmic Latin dance in "Havana" and "The Crapshooters' Ballet."
Set design by John Farrell features a colorful Times Square panorama lit by splashy lighting by Andrew Gmoser. Costumes by Derek Lockwood capture the era with loud striped and checkered suits for the men, trim uniforms for the soul savers and frilly tights for the nightclub girls. This is an enjoyable must-see production.