Monomoy Theatre favorite Kyle Brand directs a multi-talented cast in an enormously audience pleasing season-opening production of “Guys and Dolls.”
Phil Rittner’s musical direction of Frank Loesser’s lyrics and songs will have you singing and dancing the night away. Kyle Rudolph’s choreography stars as its own comically fluid entity. Andrew Sierszyn, scenic designer, has transformed the theater into 1950s Runyonland when New Yorkers walked Broadway at Times Square in search of luck, faith, and happy endings. Yellow steel arches and picture windows frame the Monomoy players in their roles as gamblers, chorus girls, soul savers, and even a loving grandfather, with complete police oversight “on the devil’s own street.” Follow the fold to the mission or the longest-running crap game or even a flyaway date night to sizzling Havana. And all in two fast-moving acts.
“Guys and Dolls” premiered on Broadway in 1950. Based on Damon Runyon’s colorful, flamboyant and authentic characters from his court reporting days as a writer, the book was by Jo Swerling and controversial radio writer Abe Burrows. The show won five Tony Awards including Best Musical. Divisive politics at the time could not quench audiences’ gleeful responses to the interplay between Bible quoting soul savers, lovable criminals, sexy night club gals and a love-conquers-all belief in the goodness of human nature. You might even forget just for one night to silence your cell phones, sit back and enjoy a night of live theater.
Casey Predovic, who practically grew up on the Monomoy stage, stars in the lead role of Nathan Detroit, the smooth talking, easy street, song and dance big city gangster always a little short of cash. Casey leads his merry band of crap shooting brothers in search of the next secretive locale for “the oldest established” guy game of the time. Nathan’s floating game of chance is paired to his 14-year romance with the charming, dreamy-eyed Adelaide. Alycia Kunkle, also a Monomoy alum guest artist, glistens with sweet innocence and chorus line charm. Adelaide dreams of getting Nathan home with rings on both their fingers. After all, her mother in Rhode Island already believes they are married with kids. Is it any wonder the love birds have this heavily New York accented chemistry between one another?
Nathan plots an easy street next deal with buddy Sky Masterson. Sky must fly from the big apple to Havana Cuba for dinner with a gal of Nathan’s choosing. Simple enough. Soul-saving Sarah Brown from the local Mission is pretty cute in a quiet way. Sky plants a quick kiss when given the chance but oh my, Sarah responds with a slap, an unlikely bachelorette. General Cartwright, played by Emily Qualmann, threatens to close the Mission after Sky wins his bet. Sarah must now find 12 sinners for their next prayer meeting or else. Talk about mission impossible. In this show, guys will do anything for the dolls they love.
Lawson Lewallen as Sky and Katherine Wolff as Sarah carry much of the show’s storyline in several highlighted scenes. Lewallen's affable, fast-talking, adaptable, highest better in town sings lovely duets with Wolff’s prim and proper Sarah. Wolff’s solo “If I had a Bell” in Havana speaks of a woman’s awakening. What a super orchestra number in Latin beat complete with a well-choreographed brawl scene.
Act two begins with Adelaide leading the Hot Box girls in a show stopping nightclub act “Take Back Your Mink.” Alycia Kunkle once again winsome and adorable.
Artistic director Alan Rust plays Adelaide’s grandfather in a poignant solo, “More I cannot Wish You.” Christopher Bailey brings down the house as Nicely Nicely with his entourage of holy rollers in two signature numbers, the title song “Guys and Dolls” and “Sit down You’re Rocking the Boat,” not to mention “Fugue for Tinhorns.” Tristan Rewald’s Harry the Horse was particularly well delivered.
Local favorite Scott Hamilton plays the calm, inquisitive Lt. Brannigan who searches high and low for those resilient rapscallions. Todd Cashdollar is a bigger-than-life Big Jule who rolls his own unmarked dice in the art of winning every deal. Brienna Notaro joins the mission band members.
Grace Bunt’s costuming speaks of silk, satin, and elegance for the dolls, with guys in period suiting with a flash of dash.
Get your markers and $1,000 bills for a most enjoyable musical evening at the Monomoy Theatre.
“Guys and Dolls”
At Monomoy Theatre
June 19 through 30, Monday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Thursdays 2 p.m.
Information and reservations: 508-945-1589, www.monomoytheatre.org