Guys and Dolls

Does this show deliver enough joy to warrant crossing the border?

By Andrew Andrews

Danielle Jackman, MacKenzie Farrell, Lauralyn McClelland Michelle Lemon and Stephanie Eve Parker in Sharon Playhouse’s production of Guys and Dolls by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, directed and choreographed by Justin Boccitto. Original photos by Ashley Garrett.

Nathan Detroit operates the oldest established permanent floating crap game in 1930s New York, but he’s having a hard time finding a venue because Police Lieutenant Brannigan is putting on the heat.

Joey Biltmore is willing to offer his garage, but only if Nathan pays him a grand up front.

In order to acquire the necessary lettuce, Nathan bets the always-willing gambler Sky Masterson that the latter will not be able to convince Sarah Brown, the puritanical leader of a nearby mission, to fly off to Havana for dinner.

While Masterson attempts to seduce the stuffy evangelist, Nathan receives reprimands from his lovely fiancée of fourteen years, Miss Adelaide (the star performer at the Hotbox cabaret) for running the racket and failing to follow through on his promise to marry.

With its basis on short stories by Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls’ Broadway premiere in 1950 is the Tony Award winner for Best Musical of 1951, and perhaps best known for its 1955 Hollywood adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

Although Sharon Playhouse might not technically reside in the Hudson Valley, its domicile just across the border from Dutchess County makes this the first production in Connecticut to receive coverage from Opplaud®.

It’s also the first full-scale production at the Sharon Playhouse in three years, boasting a large cast, eight-piece live band, and fine, colorful costumes by Michael Bottari, Ronald Case and Kurt Alger.

C.K. Edwards, Joshua Spencer, Dom Giovanni, Payton Turpin, Gavid Fanning, John Champion, Emily Soell, Vincent Law and Stephanie Eve Parker (not shown) join Robert Anthony Jones, Nicholas J. Reese, Evan Lennon, Amanda Lea LaVergne and TJ Kubler to complete the cast.

Like Urinetown (and yet totally different from that show!), Guys and Dolls is a fun musical that’s hard to mess up—and just like Mac-Haydn’s recent version of the former, this Playhouse production is infinitely easy to enjoy.

Brimming with sing-along songs and tap dancing spectacularity from start to finish, the talented cast delivers one extravagant number after another, bracketing a story that’s as hopelessly romantic as it is easy to follow.

Robert Anthony Jones’s depiction of Nathan Detroit is an exaggeration of Nathan Lane’s, which is an exaggeration of Frank Sinatra’s, which is an exaggeration of Sam Levene’s—the last person being in the mind of Abe Burrows during the writing process. While this makes the character significantly less realistic, it beefs up the comedy for those willing to stretch the suspension of disbelief.

The vocals here could be stronger overall—although I’m sure it must be laborious to expel air from your lungs whilst keeping step with all of the fancy footwork. Lauralyn McClelland shines in “Bushel and a Peck” and “Sue Me” (in which Jones’s vocal superiority over Levene also stands out), and Amanda Lea LaVergne’s “If I Were a Bell” is also a highlight.

Due to scheduling conflicts during last week’s opening, this review appears a little late in the run, which means you don’t have much time left to enjoy one of the remaining performances. Best you hurry up and catch one, before the cast disperses faster than a gang of crap shooters at the sound of a police siren.

5

Andrew Andrews attended Guys and Dolls at Bobbie Olsen Theater in Sharon on Thursday, August 4, 2022 @ 8:00pm to write this review.