Thursday, July 5, 2012
Theater review: Guys and Dolls at Runway Theatre in Grapeveine
Vocal performances from the company at large make it worthy of consideration.
There are many timeless tales in theatre and literature but perhaps Guys and Dolls (playing at Runway Theatre in Grapevine through July 22) is not one of them. Through the years, it seems to have lost its relevance. The musical has a handful of great songs and a few opportunities for creative designers but I have difficulty relating to the characters. The show is comprised of street gamblers, nightclub performers and uptight missionaries carrying on a most anticlimactic plot.
Runway Theatre falls short on intrigue in this production. The introduction is almost lifeless until the men begin to sing "Fugue for Tinhorns" lead by Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet, and Rusty Charlie played by Tripp Jackson, Jason Solis, and Woody, respectively. In this number, the men argue over which horse will win a big race. The three men harmonize well together and Jason Solis is particularly energetic and funny. Jonathan Charles is hilarious on the phone as the voice of Joey Biltmore.
Costume designer Marcus Lopez and Costumes by Dusty collaborate to create a beautifully dressed cast. The crapshooters are dressed in an assortment of colors and patterns from plaid to pinstripe and a collection of beautiful ties and fedoras. The Save-a-Soul Mission Band stands tall in matching bright red ensembles and gold buttons. Adelaide and The Hot Box Girls dance in sexy lace negligees.
The orchestra performs with great timing and volume throughout. The choreography by Shannon Walsh accommodates inexperienced dancers. The majority of company dances are kept simple and repetitive. The Havana scene which features two couples ballroom dancing is a pleasant exception.
Dave Cave portrays Sky Masterson alongside Molly Dobbs as Sarah Brown. I hoped to see more dimension and chemistry between the two. Cave's performance is a bit stiff and inaudible at times. Dobbs is cute as the uptight innocent missionary who is doubtful of Sky at first. Both actors have great singing voices and harmonize well during "I've Never Been in Love Before."
Aaron Lett plays Nathan Detroit as charming and relatable. He and Noelle Salter, who plays Nathan's fiancée of fourteen years, Adelaide, are cute. Together they display a realistic couple who get on each other's nerves but can't seem to get enough of one another. Noelle Salter steals the show as Adelaide. Her performance is undeniably good.
Salter is a confident actress that beams on the stage. She makes us laugh as the extremely patient fiancée who is getting fed up with Nathan's procrastination. She breaks out in a humorous rendition of "Adelaide's Lament." Salter also leads the Hot Box Girls in a comical and sexy "Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink." In the second act Molly Dobbs (Sarah Brown) and Salter sing a memorable duet about the men they love in "Marry the Man Today."
A huge storm made it difficult to hear much of the second act on the day that I reviewed this musical but I applaud the company's professionalism during this setback. Everyone stayed in character and the play continued without hesitation.
Lighting designers Emilie Buske-Ferman and Jeremy Ferman do a great job with many lighting variations. For "Luck be a Lady" they use green sewer-shaped gobos on the ground and pink, orange, green and blue lights on the gamblers. A stained glass gobo represents the colorful mission window during the missionary scenes. In Havana, a silver curtain is pulled across the stage, and together with the low lights, create a romantic sparkle.
The actors' energy on "Crapshooter's Dance" and "Luck Be a Lady" helps the show pick up its pace. Director Amy Jackson's staging is good during "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat". The actors really work the stage during these engaging company arrangements. But alas the show does drag along during much of the book scenes but when the cast breaks out in song all of the vocal talent stands out.
While not an outstanding production of Guys and Dolls, individual performances from Noelle Salter, Aaron Lett and Molly Dobbs as well as vocal performances from the company at large make it worthy of consideration. If you love old-fashioned musicals with glamorous costumes, flashy lights and familiar songs, you will enjoy this show!
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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