Guys and Dolls is the classic gem about a couple of free-wheeling gamblers, and the dames who (spoiler alert?) get them to settle down. The plot centers on Nathan Detroit (Nick Yocum), who is scrambling to find a location for his underground craps game - unbeknownst to his perpetual fiancee, a nightclub singer named Adelaide (Keira Schmitt). To get the money for a venue, he makes a bet with his buddy Sky Masterson (Jackson McLaskey) that puts him straight in the path of the stalwart and staid Salvation Army sergeant, Sarah Brown (Kelly Robinson). A few dice games, prayer meetings, chase scenes, and missed connections later, of course, everything is as it should be...and then they sing.
The problem I have facing me now is that there are so many excellent performances, I'm not sure how I'll be able to fit everything in. Nick Yocum is loads of fun as Nathan Detroit, balancing the shifty gambler with the terrified waffler and the wide-eyed lover. And Keira Schmitt's adorable Adelaide has a set of pipes on her! One of the standouts in a cast of top-notch voices, she is right at home on the stage, playing in and through the music with ease. Jackson McLaskey's Sky Masterson is suave and in control, with a forward momentum that keeps the whole cast moving. Kelly Robinson's crystal clear tone and unflagging sweetness make her Sarah Brown a great partner for McLaskey. And she knocks "Marry the Man Today" right out of the park. But a four-person musical this is not! There are simply tons of wonderful standout performances from the supporting cast. Matthew Miazgowicz is a hoot as Nicely Nicely Johnson, complete with constant munchies and more than his share of showstoppers. And his partner in crime Benny Southstreet (Garett Harris) takes on the 1950s Runyonland style like a second skin, with all kinds of swagger. Colin Mallory as Rusty Charlie rounds out this trio of no-goodnicks with panache. Luke Rose is a riot as the Chicago thug Big Julie, and he has some pretty impressive moves to boot. Anthony Scamihorn has some very funny moments as Harry the Horse. The Hot Box Dolls' dance numbers are as hilarious as they are skillful. And Anna Seibert's sweet second act ballad as missionary Aileen Abernathy positively floats.
From a production standpoint, Michael J. Barnes's show relishes in its fantastically fun design concept. Sarah Pearline's dynamically cartoony set is highlighted handily by Samuel G. Byers's clever, painterly lighting design, all creating a perfect playground for Mary Copenhagen's deliciously vibrant costumes. And the choreography by Meg Paul and J.M. Rebudal is fantastic, full of strength, grace, humor, and excellent storytelling. The orchestra is serviceable, though at times it feels just on the edge of keeping it together. And the staging is generally a little lackluster, missing numerous opportunities for pacing and punctuation. Still, these prove to be small blemishes on an otherwise delightful evening of musical theatre!
So get on out to the Bonstelle for a classic, catchy, cartoony, comical, downright fun performance! I bet you'll love it... and I'm no welcher.
Guys and Dolls by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows (Director: Michael J. Barnes) continues at Wayne State University's Bonstelle Theatre through April 19. Tickets range from $20-$25. For more information, visit http://www.cfpca.wayne.edu/theatreanddance/.