What would a guy do for a doll? The classic 1950s stage production, Guys and Dolls, ponders that very question.
In the hands of the EMU Theatre program, the show brims with energy from start to finish. From the second the lights in the theatre go down, the stage is splashed with color and the air is permeated with sound. The lovable musical gangsters take the stage; their passion for song and dance is rivaled only by their love for illicit gambling.
Director Phil Simmons and his cast of talented singers, dancers and thespians have been hard at work to bring the magic of Guys and Dolls to Quirk Theatre. They, along with the dedicated and skilled crew backstage, have managed to craft a number of vibrant settings, bring to life likeable characters and tell a story of love and redemption nearly everyone can enjoy.
The events of the plot are the direct result of Nathan Detroit’s desperation to secure enough money to pay the garage offering to host his illegal floating craps game. Seeking one grand in cash, he offers the avid gambler Sky Masterson a bet he’ll never win. Sky must convince the conservative, uber-pious Sarah Brown to accompany him to Havana.
Stephanie VanAlstine shines as the Save-a-Soul Mission sergeant Sarah, assertive and commanding whenever her character is present on stage. Feisty and equipped with a pure, soaring soprano, VanAlstine’s acting and vocal skills are nothing short of brilliant. The production’s other prominent female role is the infamous Miss Adelaide, bitter from spending fourteen-years engaged to Nathan with no marriage in sight, who is portrayed
masterfully by Kelsey Kerkes.
One show stopping number was the duet between the characters of Sarah and Sky, portrayed by Eric Hohnke, “I’ll Know.” Sky meets Sarah at the headquarters of the Mission, pretending to want to be saved so that he can charm her into coming to Havana. They sing of their ideas about love and romance and, at the conclusion, they share a tender kiss, followed by a bitter slap in the face by Sarah, who is not buying that he’s actually seeking salvation.
Another scene-stealing character is the charming Nicely Nicely Johnson, played by Jeff Ogden. Filled with energy and humor, the character is easily one of the most likeable characters in the plot. “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” one of the final musical numbers in the production, features Nicely leading the cast in song, and is sure to incorporate plenty of smooth harmonies and complex choreography.
Other songs that will certainly be lodged in listeners’ heads are Adelaide’s “A Bushel and a Peck,” sung with the colorfully-costumed Hot Box girls and Sarah’s rowdy “If I Were a Bell,” sung after she unintentionally gets tipsy while at dinner with Sky. One touching moment between Sarah and her grandfather comes in the form of “More I Cannot Wish You.”
“Luck Be a Lady,” featuring the majority of the male cast in a green-glowing sewer, is brimming with vigor and energy and “Sue Me,” a tension-soaked duet between Nathan Detroit (played by Caleb Knutson) and Adelaide, is one of the strongest performances in the show.
There is truly something for everyone in the classic production. While many will certainly come for the music, the plot is thought-out and surprisingly not too difficult to follow.
Will Nathan and Sky change their gambling ways and become honest members of society for their “dolls,” or will Adelaide and Sarah have to put up with their men’s flaws?
Guys and Dolls will be showing at the Quirk Theatre on April 13, 14, 19 and 21 at 7 p.m., on April 20 at 9 p.m. and on April 15 at 2 p.m.
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