Aired on KSDS-FM on 7/21/17
RUN DATES: 7/2/17 – 8/13/17
VENUE: The Old Globe
What makes a great musical? A memorable score, fascinating characters and a compelling story. The icing on this theatrical cake is superb singing and terrific dancing.
The Old Globe’s “Guys and Dolls” has it all. Many aficionados consider this the “perfect” musical. It’s based on the wonderfully colorful tales of beloved New York Prohibition Era short story writer Damon Runyan, with comical book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, and fabulous music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. The score includes timeless classics like “Bushel and a Peck,” “If I Were a Bell,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” which is, as always, a show-stopper. “Luck Be a Lady” is a winner, too.
This production was mounted in association with the Asolo Repertory Theatre of Sarasota, Florida, where it debuted with a different cast this past winter.
It’s a knockout – visually, vocally and terpsichorially. The look of a seedy, pre-Disney Times Square, formerly the city’s underbelly, is revealed in the first scene, with its fighters and flashers, cops and robbers, streetwalkers and sailors, and grifters galore.
Then we meet the central gamblers and “no-goodniks” – the crap-game organizer, Nathan Detroit; the high-roller, Sky Masterson; and their romantic counterparts: Sky’s reluctant “Mission doll,” Sarah, and Nathan’s ever-sniffling, 14-year fiancée, Adelaide. This is the production’s one stellar, breakout performance: Veronica J. Kuehn, with her stratospherically squeaky voice and killer dance moves.
All the dancing is phenomenal, thanks to Josh Rhodes’ direction and choreography – which is energetic, athletic, executed with supreme precision, and just plain fun. Lots of nice touches here, though the comic leads do tend to lean heavily on the dated laugh lines.
Speaking of dated, the show, which premiered on Broadway in 1950, has some pretty antiquated views of women and marriage that might raise some hackles. Still, you can’t help but fall in love with these folks.
While this isn’t a “Guys and Dolls” for the ages, it certainly is a lively and thoroughly enjoyable entertainment.
©2017 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews