Everyone loves Guys and Dolls, the classic 1950 musical featuring fabulous musical numbers by Frank Loesser and a timeless, ever-charming story by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
The musical, which is largely based on two short stories by Damon Runyon, and which is set in the 1930s, calls for a large and lively young cast, making it a perfect undertaking for Playmakers Repertory Company’s Summer Youth Conservatory.
Before the show even starts, it’s evident that PRC and set designer Robin Vest have held nothing back for this performance. An appropriately dark and shady side of New York is portrayed with the flashing lights, subway signs, and alluded-to alleyways that are hallmarks of Vest’s creative set.
In this gritty part of New York, the audience quickly meets Nathan, a young hustler brought to life by Ethan Fox, and his fiance (of fourteen years!), Adelaide, portrayed to perfection by Ainsley Seiger.
While both Nathan and Adelaide live on the wilder side of life, there’s one member of the character line-up who doesn’t, and that’s Sarah Brown (Mya Ison), one of the leading members of the Save-A-Soul Mission. Brown doesn’t know that she’ll soon become the subject of a shady bet made by Nathan and Sky Masterson (Gideon Chickos), a bet that requires charming-but-smarmy Masterson to get her to go on a dinner date with him in Havana and which fuels the plot forward in a fast-moving, always-fun series of events.
Loesser’s perfect songs are played out wonderfully as the story unfolds. Chickos does a particularly good job with what is arguably the show’s most beloved song, “Luck Be a Lady,” and he’s not the only young actor who shows considerable talent. Ison wows with her powerful voice and stern command of the Sarah character, but it is Seiger who really shines here. Showcasing talent, excellent comedic timing, and sheer likeability, she easily steals the show, giving a performance far beyond her years.
Every cast member, however, is given something to do here. Jeffrey Meanza’s direction is all over the place (in a good way). He has his characters going up into the aisles, standing right by audience members, and at one point, even dropping a coat over the head of an audience member (hilarious, by the way). Plus, Matthew Steffens’ choreography often makes use of the whole cast with big, heart-pounding, and ultimately fabulous dance numbers.
These young actors, with the help of a very talented production staff, have turned out an amazing performance that is definitely worth seeing!
The PlayMakers Repertory Company Summer Youth Conservatory presents GUYS & DOLLS at 7:30 p.m. July 24 and 25 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
TICKETS: $15 ($10 for students 18 and under).
BOX OFFICE: 919-962-7529 or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets.
SHOW: http://www.playmakersrep.org/guysanddolls and https://www.facebook.com/events/798122630301334/.
UNC NEWS RELEASE: http://uncnews.unc.edu/2015/06/16/PlayMakers-summer-youth-conservatory-to-perform-guys-dolls/.
PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.
“The Idyll of Sarah Brown” (1933 short story): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Idyll_of_Miss_Sarah_Brown (Wikipedia).
Damon Runyon (author and journalist, 1880-1946): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=4943 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damon_Runyon (Wikipedia).
Guys & Dolls: A Musical Fable of Broadway (1950 Broadway and 1953 West End musical): http://guysanddollsthemusical.co.uk/ (official website for the current London production), http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000040 (Music Theatre International), http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=4133 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guys_and_Dolls (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.mtishowspace.com/action/file/download?file_guid=193843 (Music Theatre International).
Frank Loesser (composer and lyricist, 1910-69): http://www.frankloesser.com/ (official website), http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=5613 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Loesser (Wikipedia).
Jo Swerling (librettist, 1897-1964): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=6750 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jo_Swerling (Wikipedia).
Abe Burrows (librettist, 1910-85): http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/artist/abe-burrows/ (Masterworks Broadway), http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=3875 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_Burrows (Wikipedia).
Jeffrey Meanza (director and associate artistic director of PlayMakers Repertory Company): http://www.playmakersrep.org/performances/embed_artist.aspx?id=a4a7e381-a5f5-453b-86cb-208ad00135a9 (PlayMakers Rep bio) and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3201760/ (Internet Movie Database).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.