Here is Paul Bruce’s review of the Guild production of Guys and Dolls.
On Friday I was able to catch the opening night of The Players Guild of Dearborn’s production of Guys And Dolls. The show is marvelous, and should quickly be put on your short list to see before it expires in three weeks time.
Produced by Alexis Bartrum and Loretta Bullock, directed by Kim Donovan, assistant directed by Caitlin Bringardner, choreographed by Xavier Bush and musically directed by Paul M. Abbott, the show is a very tight and tidy package of clean movement, and well executed production numbers. The show, originally produced in the 1950s, was part of the “bigger is better” age of theater, meaning the show has a quantity of material pulling it close to the three hour mark – standard fare for a time when that was the expectation for a night at the theater. But, this piece stands the test of time, and because of its quality direction and pacing, whisks the audience through a time warp that feels much shorter than its true running time. Director Kim Donovan has much to be proud of in this massive undertaking!
The cast actually boasts not two, but four leads, as extremely great writing has elevated the show’s secondary love interests to an exposure status that is equal in every way to the characters typically afforded the title of lead. Populating those roles are the talented quartet of Mark Wagner, Lia Bertucci, Kenyada Davis and Maura Donovan in the parts of Sky Materson, Sarah Brown, Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide respectively. All four have moments of utter hilarity that are fully show stopping. Watch for Mark and Lia in the Havana number and then again for Kenyada and Maura in the number, Sue Me.
The supporting gentlemen in this show also deserve a tip of the hat. Exceptional casting has made each of the roles star quality. Stand outs include Adam Lynch as Harry The Horse, Brian Townsend as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Mark Maccognone as Benny Southstreet, and Joe Donovan as Big Jule. Every one of these fine actors provides the audience with show stopping hilarity and/or musical sequences. Together they provide a background of performance magic that is equal in quality to those they support in the lead positions. (Difficult to do in community theater when talent is at a premium!)
Of special note are the roles of Arvide Abernathy and General Matilda Cartwright played by Guild favorites Nancy Valentini and Denise Kowalewski-Tucker respectively. Ms. Valentini’s role, normally played by a man, is executed with her usual panache and demonstrates her exceptional acting skills once again. She is hilarious with comic timing to die for. Ms. Kowalewsk-Tucker, though on stage for a far shorter time than we would like her to be, makes every minute count and has us roaring before her time is up. A big thank you to both of these ladies for the joy they provide!
The rest of the show is amply populated with a fine chorus of men and women who sing and dance beautifully. Outfitted in lovely costuming, they add a dimension of color and sound that are irresistible.
The choreography by Xavier Bush is one of the show’s highlights. All the movement is splendid, but watch for the dancing in the Havana sequence, as it is masterful to say the least. Music direction by Paul M. Abbott is exceptional as well. The vocals for the company are strong and well defined and the orchestra quality and blend is one of the most impressive I’ve heard at The Guild!
The show’s sets and props are equally impressive, as are the hair and make-up designs. Lighting cues are spot on with an exceptional plot that boasts an unbelievable 800 plus cues.
All in all, a grand piece of theater!
For ticket information contact the Guild by phone at (313) 561-TKTS or on-line using the link in the first comment below.
With, Sebastian Zackery Adams, Timothy Carney, Jeff Lokken, Carissa Marie Lokken, Marc Walentowicz, John Sczomak, David R Reynolds II, Julie Ballantyne Brown, Linda Sinak Mosley, Mary Booth Calder, Diane Manko-Cliff, Rebecca O’Shesky Hermen , Richard Silvio Bulleri, Robert Doyle, Kori Elizabeth Bielaniec, Melissa Foster, Thomas Sparrow, Stan Guarnelo, Amy Purrenhage Moore