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Guys and Dolls

a Musical Comedy
by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows (book); Frank Loesser (songs)

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Jennie T. Anderson Theatre-Cobb Civic Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 4518

SHOWING : October 25, 2013 - November 10, 2013



Set in vivid, mid-20th century New York City and buoyed by a Frank Loesser score that is among the most immortal works in theater history, GUYS AND DOLLS is an American classic that has been called “the perfect musical comedy.” Featuring an eclectic ensemble of high-rolling gambler “guys,” well-meaning missionary “dolls,” and brassy-voiced showgirls, GUYS AND DOLLS is a toe-tappingly fun and romantic fable about gambling men and the strong-willed women who love them. Featuring such classics as “Luck Be A Lady,” “I’ll Know,” “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat,” and, of course, the title song.

Director Brandt Blocker
Choreographer Karen Hebert
Music Director Paul A. Tate
Ensemble Amy Alford
Calvin/Ensemble Nick Battaglia
Ensemble Priscilla Curtis
Lt. Brannigan George Deavours
Sky Masterson Logan Denninghoff
Ensemble Fenner Eaddy
Ensemble Zack Everhart
Big Jule Brian Frey
Arvide Abernathy Theo Harness
Ensemble Bonnie Harris
Ensemble Jamey Hoge
Sarah Brown Jamie Wood Katz
Nathan Detroit Alan Kilpatrick
Gen. Matilda B. Cartwright Marsha Lanzo
Benny Southstreet Dustin Lewis
Agatha/Ensemble Barbara Macko
Miss Adelaide Lisa Manuli
Martha/Ensemble Kathleen McCook
Mimi/Ensemble Elizabeth Neidel
Rusty Charlie/Ensemble J. Koby Parker
Ensemble/Dance Captain Becca Potter
Nicely-Nicely Johnson Glenn Rainey
Ensemble Becky Simmons
Angie the Ox/Ensemble Austin Tijerina
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A Cartoon
by playgoer
Sunday, November 10, 2013
"Guys and Dolls" is a classic Broadway musical comedy, and with good reason. It’s got a lot of comedy, a lot of memorable music, and a bunch of lovable characters. Add in the Runyonesque language of itsdialogue and the cartoonish behavior of its gangsters, and you have a musical comedy that has built a world of its own. What a production of "Guys and Dolls" has to do to succeed is to let that world come to life on the stage. Atlanta Lyric’s production does just that.

The tone of the show is set by Alan Kilpatrick (as Nathan Detroit) and Lisa Manuli (as Miss Adelaide, his fiancée of 14 years). Both give performances filled with shtik, but with plenty of heart inside. They have the rhythms of the language down, and milk every laugh for what it’s worth. They’re ably assisted by the well-matched Dustin Lewis and Glenn Rainey as, respectively if not respectfully, Benny Southstreet and Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Their interplay adds to the Runyonesque and cartoonish tone.

In the middle of this cartoon gangster milieu, there’s a Salvation Army lass trying to make a go of the Save-a-Soul mission. Jamie Wood Katz plays her endearingly, and has a believable bond with her grandfather, played by Theo Harness. She has fine chemistry with Logan Denninhoff (her gangster suitor, Sky Masterson), but his speech rhythms don’t mesh well with the more comical characters. His lines are written to be delivered in the same general way as the other gangsters, at least when he’s speaking to them. A distinction is needed, but here the distinction is a bit too strong. Marsha Lanzo, as a visiting Salvation Army dignitary, also has a hard time fitting in with the tone of the show, giving a somewhat broad performance that points out, rather than disguises, the fact that she isn’t particularly well cast, being too young and attractive for the authority figure she is supposed to be.

The ensemble does a great job in keeping the show moving along. There is some stunning dancing, particularly in the underground gambling scene. Choreographer Karen Hebert has had talent galore to work with, and she certainly puts the cast through its paces.

Music director Paul Tate also has had talent galore to work with. Consequently, the score is thrillingly sung, start to finish. Sound designer Bobby Johnston has done a good job of keeping sound levels consistent, although from my vantage point near a speaker on the side, I had to stuff something in my ears to make the sound level bearable.

And the look of the show? Scenic designer Lee Shiver-Cerone has fabricated a series of brightly-colored drops and scrims that add variety and interest to each scene. Scenic artist Edward R. Cox has done a bang-up job, reproducing the look of Tony Walton’s 1992 Broadway design. Mary Parker’s lighting design helps to make each scene sparkle, with liberal use of spotlights in musical numbers. The use of spotlights, drops, and act-closing curtains gives the feel of 1949, when the show is set (although a marquee with "The Lemon Drop Kid" is a bit anachronistic, since its films were released in 1934 and 1951, based on a story by, you guessed it, Damon Runyon). Lindsey G. Paris’ costume design and George Deavours’ wig and hair design both add to the period flair. The only negative comment I have is that the fake fur of the "Take Back Your Mink" number wasn’t faux painted to look like mink.

Director/conductor Brandt Blocker has fashioned an extremely entertaining production of "Guys and Dolls." Praise needs to be spread evenly in all directions. The principals, the ensemble, the orchestra, and the production personnel have all pulled together to create a stunning version of "Guys and Dolls" that can hold its own against any other professional production I’ve seen. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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