Book by Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows
Directed & Choreographed by Matt Raftery
Musical Direction by Ryan T. Nelson
At Mirriott Theatre, Lincolnshire
You can gamble on Marriott Theatre’s Guys & Dolls
Called the perfect classical musical comedy with a zesty brilliant score, Guys & Dolls is the kind of show that doesn’t need to be tinkered with. Director/Choreographer Matt Raftery respectful of the rich score and zany humor has cast a fine troupe of Equity actors that play the vivid and lovable characters for all their cartoon fable foibles. This is a fresh, energetic and hilarious production true to the 1950 original.
From the opening number, “Runyonland,” we get the atmosphere of Broadway in the late 1940’s as gamblers and show girls rule the late night Manhattan streets. The bouncy swing/jazz score by Frank Loesser starts us toe-tapping immediately. The gamblers, led by Nicely (George Andrew Wolff), Benny (Bernie Yvon) and Rusty (George Keating), harmonize the “Fugue for Tinhorns” in one of the most recognizable show tunes of all times.
The lowlifes are aided by the Christian missionaries bent on saving their souls. Sarah Brown (Abby Mueller) and Arvide Abernathy (Roger Mueller) are the crusaders. Gambler Nathan Detroit (the terrific Rod Thomas) and his 14 year finance Adelaide (a fabulous turn by Jessie Mueller) spare over marriage as Detroit is desperate to finance a dice game with so many high-rollers in town.
Detroit bets Sky Masterson (the debonair Brian Hissong) that he can’t take Salvation Army girl Sarah Brown on a date to Cuba. Nathan hopes to win the $1,000 necessary for the dice game. As Masterson is swindling Sarah, he falls in love with the holy roller. Meanwhile Adelaide pressures Nathan Detroit to marry. The police detective Lt. Brannigan (Michael Aaron Linder) pressure Nathan and the gamblers trying to stop the dice games.
The events get complicated when Shy rolls the dice for a $1,000 versus the souls to 12 gamblers (sinners) as he tries to help Sarah save her mission. All this frenzy produces cute numbers such as “Bushel and a Peck,” “If I Were a bell,” Luck Be a Lady, ” and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
This fun show is light weight yet sophisticated musical comedy. The humor is infectious; the singing is fine; and the staging is brisk and compelling. Jessie Mueller’s Adelaide, Rod Thomas’ Nathan Detroit and Brian Hissong’s Sky Masterson together with Abby Mueller’s Sarah led the way with complete performances. Bernie Yvon, George Andrew Wolff and George Keating nailed their zany characters most effectively.
Guys & Dolls is a fun musical comedy fable that easily entertains. It never needs to be reinvented, it only needs a committed respectful production as director Matt Raftery has mounted. Raftery’s choreography is smart and expertly performed. Raftery demonstrates a keen eye for detail as a first-time director. His Guys & Dolls is tight, swift and thoroughly engaging. Loesser’s music is in fine hands with Ryan T. Nelson’s music direction. This production is a sure winner.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2011
For full show information, check out the Guys & Dolls page at Theatre In Chicago.
At Marriott Theatre, Rt 45 & Rt 22 in Lincolnshire, IL, call 847-643-0200, www.marriotttheatre.com, tickets $40 -$48, Wednesdays at 1 & 8 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through March 27, 2011