….Another Opening—-Guy and Dolls
Theater review: Howard Steven Frydman
Though Connecticut may be home to two of the largest casinos in the world, five will get you ten, that your surest bet for a great time can be found in the quaint town of East Haddam, and a visit to its most famous denizen – The Goodspeed Opera House. The Goodspeed- CT’s premiere musical theater – for its first entry in this 2015 season – joyfully whisks us into the “Runyonesque” world of “Guys and Dolls”. A world inhabited by a bevy of gamblers, hustlers, saints, sinners and various gangsters with such alias’s including; “Nathan Detroit,” Sky Masterson”, “Nicely-Nicely”, “Benny Southstreet,” “Big Jule,” and “Harry the Horse”. Guys and Dolls features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, directed by Don Stephenson and is based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon.
From the get go – this superb production of “Guys and Dolls” is fun, frantic and flashy. Bright technicolor, neon-esqe background lights invite us into the “shady” hustle-bustle sphere of Times Square NYC. The tale- New York’s most infamous “floating” crap game chairman- Nathan Detroit, (portrayed by Mark Price) hopes to get $1,000 by winning a bet against Sky Masterson, (Tony Roach) a gambler willing to bet on virtually anything. The bet- Sky must take a doll (a woman) of Nathan’s choice to dinner in Havana, Cuba. The “doll” of choice- the saintly Sister Sarah Brown (portrayed by Manna Nichols) of the Save-a-Soul Mission. I can tell you right now that all bets are off when romance enters the picture between these Guys and Dolls!
During this two hour production, I was hard put to keep from joining this exciting cast in singing such notables including: “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” “A Bushel and a Peck,” “If I Were a Bell”, “Luck Be A Lady” and the hauntingly beautiful “More I Cannot Wish You”. The entire cast is stellar, however I do want to single out three cast members – firstly the frolicsome Scott Cote (he reminded me of a young Bud Costello) as he joyfully floats around the stage in his role as “Nicely-Nicely”- his “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “Fugue for Tinhorns” is cheer out loud wonderful. Second- Nancy Anderson as Miss Adelaide- she is effervescently adorable- her comedic striptease “Take Back Your Mink” is not to be missed. Thirdly- the bigger than life – Jerry Gallagher as Big Jule- he owns this role – highly enjoyable! I must state- a summer is not a fulfilling one if you miss even one production at The Goodspeed Opera House. “Guys and Dolls” is an extraordinary first production of the season- a musical filled with a willing cast, and memorable music – a classic musical that is not to be missed-enjoy!!
Guys and Dolls will run April 10 through June 20, 2015. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m.), Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.).
Tickets are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at goodspeed.org.
The Goodspeed Opera House season will be followed by the heartwarming and outrageously funny La Cage aux Folles which will run from June 26 – September 6; and wrap up with the charming A Wonderful Life, which will run from September 18 – November 29, 2015.