Slow Start? Smash Finish to Guys and Dolls

Famous musical returns to Cape Playhouse

guydollsBy Libby Hughes for Cape Cod TODAY

"Guys and Dolls" went from wobble to WOW on opening night at the Cape Playhouse. For its patrons, the Playhouse opened big guns for the second blockbuster musical of the season. The actors picked up the pace and kept the dice rolling in song and dance for nearly three hours and landed a standing ovation.

Let’s not forget that this is a 56-year-old popular musical written by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling and opened on Broadway in 1950, see the origianl show's poster on right. They built the show around a short story by Damon Runyon called, “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown.” Winning songwriter, Frank Loesser wrote the music and lyrics. He also wrote lyrics for "Most Happy Fellah "and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Modern Themes in old timer

garrett_long_and_jarrod_emick300What keeps “Guys and Dolls” alive and well on stages around the country? Battle of the sexes! The storyline is about men and women. Miss Adelaide can’t get her boy friend, Nathan Detroit, of 14 years to commit to marriage. So what else is new in the 21st century? There are gorgeous women in NYC and LA with the same problem today. Secondly, a handsome gambler, Sky Masterson, accepts a thousand dollar bet. Can he sweep a prudish young woman of the “Save a Soul Mission” off her feet and fly her to Havana for lunch? Back in 1950 Robert Alda, Vivian Blaine, and Sam Levene were the Broadway stars.

Remember the recent movie “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey? It’s the same bet. The two end of up falling in love while trying to dump each other.

Actor gets Show on Right Track

Although the opening scenes seesawed, Jarrod Emick (Sky Masterson) brought the show back to a steady reality. Until his entrance, the actors went too broad in their comedy. Emick has a low-keyed presence that is commanding. He seems to be a cross between the macho Marlon Brando and the sensitive, late James Dean. Even his singing voice has an original, but soft-pedaled tone to it—perfect when it reaches full throttle. Once Jason Graae as Nathan Detroit settled down, he had plenty of charm and appeal as the scared rabbit over marriage.

 Miss Adelaide Steals the Show

The part of Miss Adelaide is a singer’s dream. Liz Larsen practically stole the show with her convincing rendition of the ditsy blonde and her nasal twang; especially in the old familiar song,  "Adelaide’s Lament." She never overplayed it. Garret Long, on right with Jarrod Emic, has a well trained voice that she used to differentiate between the puritanical Sarah Brown and the tipsy Sarah Brown in Havana. She could have made that differentiation even stronger by letting her actual hair down. However, a costume mishap may have inhibited her. When she and Jarrod Emick bring the first act down with "I’ve Never Been in Love Before," the audience members go to intermission, humming and whistling the melody out onto the Playhouse grounds.

Male Ensemble Blows the Mind

The male ensemble is sensational, due in large part to stunning choreography by John MacInnis. The gamblers in the sewer of the Biltmore blow away the audience with "Luck Be A Lady," as they do in "Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat." Richard Ruiz makes the most of his role as Nicely Nicely Johnson, a delightful, charming gambler. Gerry McIntyre puts flash and pizazz into Benny Southstreet, wearing an orange fedora and orange and white shoes. Even William Ryall as Big Julie drew laughter for his non-verbal flirtation with the missionary in the sinner scene. Costume designer Jose Rivera deserves huge credit for the ensemble costumes—suspenders, multi-colored shirts, shoes. The dresses of the women were dramatically stylized.

Behind the blue scrim at the back of the stage, musical director Steven Freeman guides his musicians through the big show numbers.

Though a tad long, "Guys and Dolls "still is big and splashy.

Performances run from July 17 through July 29. Mon. thru Sat. 8:00 pm. Matinees Wed at 2:00 pm, Sat. 7/22 at 4:00 pm; Thursday 7/27 at 2:00 pm. 820 Main St., Route 6A, Dennis. Call 508-385-3911.
Photo credit to Kathleen A. Fahle.

CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.