Missionary position

Guys and Dolls

Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Directed and choreographed by Kathleen Conry
Musical direction by Scott Ethier
St. Bart’s Players
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Guys and Dolls is a classic musical about loving to gamble and gambling to love. St. Bart’s Players presented a fairly decent community-theatre-level production, which was never painful to watch, but never magical either.

For those who don’t know, the plot of Guys and Dolls revolves around two couples -- Nathan and Adelaide and Sky and Sarah. Nathan and Adelaide have been engaged for 14 years, but rather than tie the knot, Nathan is always too obsessed with his craps game. To raise money to rent out space for the game, Nathan bets Sky that he can’t seduce Sarah, a strict missionary. However, Sky and Sarah end up falling for each other, as opposites attract, and between the illegal gambling going on and the two love plots, much conflicting chaos ensues.

Guys and Dolls is a very solid show; it is pure musical comedy. The script, while somewhat dated, provides much humor. Frank Loesser’s score is probably his best known score -- it includes the classics “Luck be a Lady,” “Adelaide’s Lament,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” and “If I Were a Bell.”

Very few people in the cast made a huge impression with their parts -- the performances were all rather lackluster and by the book. Of the leads, Elizabeth Gravitt faired best as Adelaide. Of the other secondary parts, Chazmond J. Peacock was a highlight -- his renditions of “Fugue for the Tinhorns,” “Guys and Dolls,” and especially “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” were filled with ebullient passion and zest, which were sorely missed from the rest of the production.

Some of the lack of personality and depth of the characters might be the fault of director Kathleen Conry. Also, her staging and choreography were exceedingly tacky and unimaginative. The pacing of the show, however, kept the show moving well, and there was a creative use of the audience for entrances.

Scott Ethier’s musical direction was crisp and clean. The cast’s cutoffs and harmonies were very together in the group numbers, and the four-person orchestra enriched the score.

David Withrow’s costume design was well color coordinated. Heather Wolensky’s set design was very maneuverable, while providing a pretty landscape of the city in the background. Jason Scott’s lighting design relied too heavily on tacky follow spots, which, to make matters worse, were unable to follow the singers during some of their faster movements.

Thus, overall, St. Bart’s production of Guys and Dolls never became more than the sum of its parts.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2005 Seth Bisen-Hersh