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Guys and Dolls
a Musical Comedy

COMPANY : Barnbuster Musicals [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Cobb Playhouse and Studio [WEBSITE]
ID# 894

SHOWING : March 05, 2004 - April 03, 2004



Enjoy the antics of Nathan Detroit and his bumbling gambling gangsters as they try to arrange their floating crap game around the love story of Nathan Detroit and Adelaide (assisted by her Hot Box girls). Watch as high-roller Sky Masterson turns into an honest man when he falls in love with Miss Sara of the Union Rescue Mission.

producer John Christian
Director Tara Simpson Hodges
Choreographer Olivia Prawdzik
Musical Director David Stephens
Ensemble Keith Embler
Nathan Detroit Rob Hardie
Sky Masterson Len Hedges-Goettl
General Cartwright Barb Hedges-Goettl
Ensemble Izzy Hedges-Goettl
Sister Sarah Brown Julia D. Jones
Rusty Charlie Barry Lloyd
Adelaide Kathleen McCook
Mimi Olivia Prawdzik
Harry the Horse William Riggs
Arvide Abernathy Murray Sarkin
Benny Southstreet Alan Stacy
Nicely-Nicely Johnson David Stephens
Nicely Nicely Mike Wasson
Ensemble Beth Weltz
Big Julie Adam Zangara
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


You reached for the stars but fell short
by Paul
Friday, April 9, 2004
THis was our first venture to the Cobb playhouse. I must say that we almost pasted it. Jill and i were looking forward to this production as it is one of our favorite musicals. I know that it is hard to find men for musicals but I was disappointed in both male leads. There was something missing. Both the the female leads were good and their numbers were some of the highlights of the show.

All in all we were less than pleased with our evening.

And as always neither I or my wife our affiliated with any theatre other than the guise of patron

Review from an insider
by josephdrummer
Monday, March 29, 2004
I would like to take this opportunity to review the production for which I am currently serving as percussionist (yes, I know that most of you thought that the drums were too much, but after 8 of 10 shows, there is nothing I can realistically do - unless you have some serious suggestions). Most of you condemn reviews of shows by cast or crew members, but I will not sing the praises of every single piece of the show and not bring up the bad parts.
In Barnbuster Musicals' performance of Guys and Dolls, I was asked to accompany the pianist (who also played a part in the show) on the drums. Since the pianist has a part in the play, some of you are correct in deducing that much of the music was prerecorded. However, only two slow songs (that is, the ones in which the soloist leads) were recorded - "Luck be a Lady" and "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" - and all the rest were accompanied by our talented pianist.
I would appreciate replies to this message by Johnnyreb and Okely-Dokely telling me exactly why they thought I did a less-than-adequate job on the drums, and how Okely-Dokely heard anything that sounded like techno music. And, just for your clarification, I am a 14-year-old self-taught drummer and singer who has been playing for 2 years, and I am in my church's praise band (leading worship for over 500 people per service - of which there are two).
I would also really appreciate replies by anyone who saw Guys and Dolls telling me how I could improve my broadway-style drumming skills for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", the next show for which I am playing.
Thank you for the time you took to read this, and I look forward to some kind, constructive criticism.
God Bless,
by Girl
Regrettably I did not see the show so I cannot make any comments as per your request. I just wanted to drop a note saying that I don’t think anyone minds an insider review as long as the reviewer is forthcoming in their connection to the production. So, thank you, and I wish you the best of luck with Joseph.
Let's be Frank...Loesser? (I know, bad punn)
by JohnnyReb
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I wished I might have been able to post a review of GUYS AND DOLLS prior to reading other published opinions and the many comments that have been posted re: said opinions. As an outsider to all of the varying positions (and apparent turmoil) among those who have been or are currently involved with The Cobb Playhouse, it appears that much of what has been written has been inspired more by personal emotions/relationships than by what was actually presented onstage.

Before going further, I would like to note I have not seen many previous productions at The Cobb Playhouse, so I cannot say whether GUYS AND DOLLS compares favorably or negatively to past endeavors. My observations are based solely on comparison to local community theatre within the Atlanta area.

One further point to make: let us not forget the primary purpose of these collected reviews, which is to serve as an informational resource for interested patrons looking for recommendations (or warnings) about a particular piece of entertainment and to answer a few key questions: Is the show worth seeing? Are there notable performances? If a known piece, is there an interesting, new interpretation being presented?

The Atlanta market offers quite a few theatrical options most nights of the week, so I believe people would like to know what might be worth spending some of their hard-earned money to enjoy.

That said, I'm afraid I must echo the chorus of those who've expressed disappointment in this most recent production of GUYS AND DOLLS. As an avid supporter of community musical theatre, I'm quick to forgive production values that don't reach a more professional level. But at $16/ticket, a theatre-goer should not expect to hear gratuitous backstage noise throughout multiple scenes, or be subjected to prolific ad-libbing by clearly uncomfortable actors waiting either for a scene change to be completed or a key character to make an overdue entrance.

Most importantly, however, one should expect to hear musical accompaniment that doesn't stumble through notes on a piano or rely upon the soundtrack of the most recent Broadway revival. My immediate questions were (1) is this a legal use of the CD recording?, (2) did the producers secure permission to do this?, and (3) with all of the local pianists available, could they not have hired someone to play this score accurately?

While many companies cannot afford more elaborate sets, costumes, lighting or full/partial orchestra, there really is no excuse for not finding someone to play reliable live piano accompaniment for a show. I'm not certain of this, but several numbers sounded as if the piano had been pre-recorded, which made no allowance for personal interpretation by the actors onstage. For a musical, particularly a well-known, beloved property such as GUYS AND DOLLS, I believe the music must come first, before choreography, staging or even acting.

Which leads me to these three elements. Overall, I found the choreography serviceable, if not entirely imaginative. If you don't have true dancers in a company--and this production did not appear to have anyone with real training--there's much that can be done to move people about with simple steps and patterns onstage to keep the visual interesting. Note to choreographer: try not to give overly complicated steps to those who cannot successfully execute them. Still, some nice surprises appeared in "Take Back Your Mink" and the Havana, Cuba scene, but the remaining numbers lacked the inventiveness these two enjoyed.

Staging all too often fell into the trap of creating a single line or semi-circle across the stage. The director might have considered trying for more levels and/or groupings. Also, key scenes between Nathan and Adelaide might have creatively opened up to extend out onto the mainstage, but instead were confined to far stage-right. I appreciated the attempt to cover long scene-changes with chorus members crossing the stage, but much of this simply confused the audience.

Acting-wise, most of the leads gave a fine performance, with the notable exception of the actor playing Sky Masterson. Poorly miscast, he found little of the romantic lead in his portrayal, and I fear he received little help from either the director or the costumer. Habits such as not looking directly in the eye of any other actor onstage, mugging while singing musical phrases--to say nothing about questionable pitch (and a truly unrecognizable "My Time of Day")--should have been attended to immediately. Also, if he was to have only one suit throughout the show, it should have been tailored to fit properly.

On the other hand, the actresses playing Adelaide and Sarah were both fine examples of local area talent. Each presented their songs and dialogue confidently, tunefully and with much style. Similarly, the actor playing Nathan had a good grasp on his character, as did Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Unfortunately, they just didn't have reliable support around them. I firmly believe that if more of the company were up to their level of these four, if the director had been willing/able to offer more than basic staging duties, and if the music had been played by a competent pianist, I believe this production would have surpassed the regrettable hurdles that bogged it down.

I plan to make a point of catching more Cobb Playhouse productions, primarily to see if the management recognizes the important steps they need to take to improve their product. I wonder if they might need to break free from what commonly occurs in community theatre--relying upon a small inner circle of volunteers that randomly assign themselves directing duties. If that's the case, how then can they grow? If they can make a habit of seeing other theatre company productions, learning from those successes/failures, and strive to build more relationships with outside artists, they'll soon be able to mount quality shows they can be extremely proud of.
This could have been so good
by Galore
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I absolutely concur with Oakley Dokely’s review of the show. The male leads, I feel were totally miscast and I cared about them not one whit. In fact, I cringed several times during their songs. Both have passable voices, I’m sure, but neither was right for this show, particularly with the most wonderful female leads. Part of the success of the show is the look it presents. This production was very very uneven. On the one hand, Nathan Detroit was sartorially splendid, but I had a difficult time with the bald head. The Sky Masterson, who supposedly has money to burn looked like thrown together dregs from the rack after everyone else picked out their costumes. Horrible. The costumes were always iffy. They were either spectacular (Detroit, the “Take Back Your Mink” number, Miss Adelaide , except for “Bushel & a Peck”, Harry the Horse) or totally and offputtingly horrible (Big Julie, Sky Masterson, the poodle skirt (?), few hats or gloves to finish outfits.)

I did not like the drum. I thought it was unnecessary and disrupted the rhythm of the show.

The whole show, I kept counting all the guys to see if they had the requisite dozen sinners that Sky promised. They didn’t, but used the ladies to fill it out. It worked, but I felt it took away from the vibrancy of the “Sit Down Your Rocking The Boat” number, which could have used more choreography and more energy. That is the only quibble with choreography, which was otherwise stellar.

I am afraid that in their quest to put butts in the seats by casting only newcomers (save one) they are undermining the overall quality of productions that a few more veterans could bring to the stage and backstage. In addition, putting on two guy heavy shows at the same time is utterly foolish and liquidates and already scarce commodity in the theatre—male talent. It did not hurt Romeo and Juliet. It did hurt Guys and Dolls.
by bobtheman
What day did you see this show?
keep trying
by Okely Dokely
Saturday, March 20, 2004
When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky, it’s probably John Christian, the artistic director of the Cobb Playhouse and Studio. He’s been aiming pretty high lately (Guys and Dolls, Romeo and Juliet, next up is Joseph…Dreamcoat), but for now is probably biting off more than he can chew. Fine by me, though. No matter how hard and flat a theatre may fall on its face when they try something different, I applaud them for their courage and ambition. You never learn how to roller-skate without falling down. I know that both literally and figuratively.

I have seen 4 productions of GaD and have been in the show once before, in one of my favorite performances. This is also #7 in a top ten favorite musicals list that I made for myself recently, so I’m very picky when it comes to this show. I am glad that most of this cast were apparent newcomers to the Cobb Playhouse, because after seeing the theatre’s most frequent flyer consistently flub up the lyrics to some of the group numbers, it makes me wonder if the veterans should take a hiatus. First off, this is a fairly short show, and I don’t believe it should EVER last 2 ½ hours, but this production does, not counting the intermission. The blame for this can be placed on the scene changes – they were often too loud and too long to the point where I dreaded the ending of scenes as they approached. A few of them were flat out strange – i.e. a random ensemble member would walk across the stage and change an article of clothing, stop and look at the contents of a package, etc. There was also a lot of backstage noise, and the drummer practicing some beats in between songs was the most distracting of all. The drums, on the whole, were overdone, as if they were trying to make it a techno version of the show. They were unnecessary during the songs where the cast recording was used (don’t get me started on the CD being used – that should be a big theatre no-no), and quite often were off the beat, especially during the Crapshooters Dance.

Speaking of the dances, the Crapshooters Dance, along with the Cuban dances in the Havana sequence, were very impressive. Everybody moved well from the “real” dancers to the performers with two left feet, and it was never boring to watch, so many props go to the choreographer. I enjoyed the costumes and the sets, when all the scene transitions were finally over, although I wish they had done something more creative than recycling the Warbucks mansion from the “Annie” set and trying to pass it off as the Hot Box. The blocking was adequate for the most part, though I did think there could have been more movement in the “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” choreography. It seemed a little too stiff for such a show-stopping number. Aside from some soloists not being together with the music, the out-of-place anachronistic references (Joe Pesci, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and psychadelic flowers), Harry the Horse suddenly becoming Howard Cosell in one scene, and the aforementioned, I didn’t have much of a problem with the way the show looked.

By far the brightest spots amid an iffy production were the two female leads. Neither were the best Sarah or Adelaide I’ve seen, but each did wonderful things with their characters. Kathleen McCook as Miss Adelaide had great chemistry with her audience and was a pleasure to watch. I loved her, a bushel and a peck. Julia D. Jones was very pretty and engaging as Sarah Brown, with the highlight being her drunken scenes, especially “If I Were a Bell.” She also proved to be a helpful fellow actor, as she put the show back on track a few times when Sky Masterson stumbled on lines. When the two of them were together, fireworks went off on stage, and they gave “Marry the Man Today” the unlikely award of Best Number of the evening.

What can I say about Sky? This one, along with the last Sky I saw, have both completely missed the boat. As an actor, Len Hedges-Goettl seemed good enough; he projected very well, and seemed to have a lot of fun up there, but he was horribly miscast. Sky is supposed to be a romantic strapping young (ish) leading man-type character, but Mr. Hedges-Goettl was not at all wooing, and had a creepy demeanor (think Dr. Einstein in “Arsenic and Old Lace”). His was pitchy on his songs, as Randy Jackson frequently says, and his singing bordered on opera parody, which made “Luck Be a Lady” – one of my favorite songs in all of musical theatre – take its toll. Also uncomfortably miscast was Adam Zangara as Big Jule. With his flamboyance, high-pitched nasal voice, and inability to be intimidating, he seemed more of a Nicely-Nicely wannabe than a Big Jule.

As you can see, I’m very passionate about this show and like to think I know the ins and outs of it well enough to make certain assessments. No personal harm intended to the people or things I have mentioned – I am just calling it like I see it. I know how much of a thrill it is to do this show, and I hope you’re having fun, and I wish you all a good rest of the run. And to the Cobb Playhouse and Studio: you’re on the right track. Keep trying.
Please come see Romeo & Juliet by cyber_jerry
Okely Dokely, please come see Romeo & Juliet. :)
Self Review???? by stratocasterfan
Can't quite tell you how impressed I am that you, and I quote, "have been in the show before, in one of my favorite performances." Glad to know you give yourself such a fine appraisal; though I don't have the foggiest idea what it is doing in your review of Guys and Dolls. I wonder if all the hardworking actors and actresses in the current Guys and Dolls would have been so thrilled by your performance?
stratocasterfan by Girl
I believe Okely was just saying that he most enjoyed his experience in doing Guys and Dolls, that he had fun in it. I can say with certainty that it is a role he lists in his bio for the sole reason that he enjoyed doing it. (Consider it a favorite credit.) As to why he mentioned it in his review, I think he was trying to show his qualifications in reviewing the show as well as point out that he may have a somewhat biased review… This is just my guess, as I know him fairly well. He did not mean any insult to anyone involved with this show by this comment or any of his others, but rather just to offer constructive feedback. (In fact, last night he told me he was afraid that his review was too harsh, because he had given his honest opinion.) I hope this offers a little insight, though I’m sure he’ll offer his own when he gets back from rehersal.

(If this shows up twice, I'm sorry.)
Ditto everything Girl said by Okely Dokely
I didn't mean to sound egotistical at all, I was just saying that it was one of my favorite theatrical experiences. I didn't say best, I said favorite. Not much else to say because Girl pretty much hit it right on.
by Ethel P.
Okely Dokely is right in applauding those who reach for the stars. Sometimes however you need the help of a step stool or even an extension ladder. But the point is you reach, and you keep reaching; hopefully getting closer every time. And the way you grow is through the acceptance of constructive criticism. Not having sat through this production, I can’t agree or disagree with the reviewers comments. However, I see nothing in the comments to warrant hurt feelings. Like Fox News, it sounds “fair and balanced.”
drummer by mike2000
I thought that the drums allowed for an interesting alternative to simple piano music throughout the show. How long do you think he has been playing? Granted: the drummer practicing beats between songs was disruptive, and the dropped sticks (or whatever that was) was distracting - but don't you agree that having drums was better than simply having someone play a keyboard for 2.5 hours?
Guys and Dolls is superb: part 2 of review
by stratocasterfan
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
The choreography was tremendous with marvelous dancing in the famous Cuban Bar scene as well as the climactic crap shoot in the sewer. The supporting Hot Box girls are all true professionals and could easily dazzle at any Atlanta night club.

Last, a big well done for the director, Tara Simpson Hodges. It is obvious from the opening scene, Runyonland, that the blocking was both creative and well crafted. the sets are realistic and functional; the sewer entrance is especially inspired.

The only slightly negative comment is that I wish they had more live musicians. The pianist and drummer are great, but the more instruments the better (rumor has it that a few musicians were last minute no shows).

All in all, Guys and Dolls is a great show and a superb way to spend an evening. I saw Guys and Dolls at the Fox years ago, and with the exception of their orchestra, Barnbuster Musical's version is every bit as good. Come see what the best of Atlanta Community theater has to offer. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Self Review by Amigo Egizio
Obviously from an insider. Shame on you.
Gus and Dolls is superb: part 1 of review
by stratocasterfan
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Barnbuster Musical's presentation of Guys and Dolls is another example of the vast improvement in the Cobb Playhouse and Studio since it became a non-profit organization. The cast is superb, and many of the players are new to both Cobb Playhouse and Studio.

The two female leads, Kathleen McCook as Miss Adelaide and Julia D. Jones as Sarah Brown, both have tremendous voices and are terrific actresses. Julia's rendition of the slightly drunk missionary and Kathleen's two numbers as the leader of the Hot Box Girls are magnificent.

The male leads, Len Hedges-Goettl as Sky Masterson and Rob Hardie as Nathan Detroit are also excellent. Rob is perhaps the slightly stronger actor, and Len has a little more classic singing voice. Both are superb in their roles.

The supporting players are also well cast. A special mention to Alan Stacy as the thoroughly authentic, none too bright gambler Bennie Southstreet, David Stephens and Mike Wasson both playing Nicely Nicely Johnson, and in what was one of the most inspired casting decisions, Adam Zangara as Big Jule. Adam, with his large girth and slightly high pitched voice does a tremendous job of delivering a nice mixture of comedy and menace.

Shame on you by Amigo Egizio
Insiders should live with guilt for giving themselves a pat on the back. Cobb & Kudzu have so much in common...
Amen Amigo Egizio by Girl
That's all I have to say about that. ;)
Make Love, Not War by cyber_jerry
As acknowledged by Okely Dokely, the Cobb Playhouse is trying to raise the bar and put on some heftier productions. Why then all the finger pointing and name-calling? Although I've been associated with the Cobb Playhouse for only several months, I've seen some great productions (that I have not been involved with), including Annie, A Miracle Worker and On Golden Pond. I haven’t seen Guys and Dolls yet, but I know the director’s track record is great and have only high respect for the cast. This message board should be spending its energy supporting each other rather than guessing who writes what (and why). There needs to be more reviews like Okely Dokely's and less of the subsequent backstabbing. Why theater people spend their energy tearing down their peers rather than supporting their good works is way beyond me. I cannot speak for Kudzue, but I know the Cobb Playhouse is working hard to put on some great shows and we really need the theater community’s support. Even if our shows are not always perfect, live performing arts in general sure beats the standard fair at the movie theater . . .
Hopelessly committed to nothing by Amigo Egizio
You, young man, are an active participant of crime. Theater people, if you classify yourself in such a category, help fuel the bad image that ultimately reflects on of all of us. Why else is theater dead in Atlanta? Dude, either you have zero talent or little brain. Hopefully it’s the latter. Little people of Little Playhouse; trust me. I've been burned before. For you remotely talented people, which I know is rare, leave in flocks and join the bright side before its too late. Otherwise, die before those empty audiences of yours and question your commitment level. Quit while you’re ahead.
okely gives fair reviews by andy
I have not seen any production at Cobb Playhouse, however I have heard a lot about it and plan to come see a production there in the future. I just simply wanted to state that I think Okely's review was very fair. I have always thought his reviews were fair and very unbiased. To Amigo, it does indeed sound like involved with someone in the production or directly related. I have never reviewed a show I was in, but if reviewing a show that a friend, etc.. is in, then yes I am guilty. But I would just like to say that noone should categorize an entire theatre as being guilty of doing this, just certain individuals. I have never seen "Guys and Dolls", but I do hear it is a fun show. I have heard Okely say in the past that it is one of his favorite roles, but I don't recall ever hearing him say he was the best in it.
A blanket thank you by Okely Dokely
To Girl, andy, cyber_jerry, and Ethel P., thank you all for your kind words.
Egizio... or should I say EGOizio by havinablast
To personally attack someones talent or brains in a sentence beginning with "Dude" is not the most convincing argument for the "brighter side". cyber_jerry's (who is not in the show by the way) point was to say that we all need to support each other. No this does not mean we give each other pointless great reviews when the show does not deserve it. While Oakley's review was harsh, if it is his true feelings with no personal vendetta, then it should be respected.And I do respect his right and many of his points are well thought out and presented.
You, on the other hand, sound as if your being "burned" has caused you to be, shall we say, slightly cynical. I just moved here from Chicago and, yes, i am appearing in a supporting role in G&D. I was not in the show the weekend that Oakley saw it, but I am glad he cared enough to come and then to take the time to let people know what he thought. This cast has been thru multiple adverse situations with this show on almost a zero budget. I really want to say that I do appreciate the time and effort put into this show by all involved. We know it could be better, in many ways, but we also appreciate all of you who came to see it. I have been to see 3 other shows myself in the time that I have lived here. Were all of them great? By no means, but they all were enjoyable because people gave of themselves to make them happen. So in the future when you directly attack someone for their comments, please try not to sound bitter. We all have a right to be heard. To my fellow cast members, as we approach our closing tonite. Thanks, it has been a great time and you all have worked very hard. I am proud to have worked with all of you.
To Amigo Egizio by Paul
I am not affiliated with Cobb Playhouse and did see this show and posted a review. Why it comes up under a different “Guys and Dolls” heading ask theater Review. I am curious to note several comments that you made. 1) Why is theater dead in Atlanta? My wife and I see many shows and find it thriving. 2) Just how were you burned? Not cast in a show that you thought you should have been? 3) Just what is the “ bright side”? That area where those who do not put themselves out in front go and wait in the dark?
Sounds to me like bitterness. Yes you are right that the review by stratocasterfan probably is inflated. In reading other reviews, I can make that determination on my own without a lot of bitter comments.

Paul Forrester
To Paul by Okely Dokely
I think I can field the "two submissions" question. I submitted the info to this site for this Guys and Dolls, because I wanted to see the show and review it; and then somebody else submitted the info for the show again, not knowing that it already had a submission. So people started posting on both. A similar mistake happened to me, and I am listed in my credits list as having played Seymour in "Little Women." I know I didn't make THAT submission.
To Oakey by Paul
Thank you for your answer and by the way thank you for your reviews. My wife Jill and I find them informative and usually dead on.


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