REVIEW: Guys and Dolls

Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls dazzled the stage this weekend at the Lydia Mendelsohn Theater. The world-renowned University of Michigan Musical Theater department consistently illuminates the community with their work, and Guys and Dolls proved to be a successful production, brimming with high-energy performances.

I am consistently impressed by the professionalism and dedication to the craft that each of the performers brings to the stage in the Musical Theater Department University Productions. The level of theater presented throughout SMTD is undeniably inspiring. Each of these characters has been meticulously shaped, both in terms of their design and costuming, as well as the emotional and physical portrayals by the actors.

Standout numbers included, “Sit Down, We’re Rocking The Boat” and “The Crapshooter’s Ballet”. These were the most intricately choreographed and truly exhilarating to watch. The assistant choreographer, Cole Newburg, was a delight to watch on stage. I am consistently impressed by his polished work. I was exceedingly impressed with the dancing aspect of this show. The different styles were skillfully portrayed, and the ensemble work was precise and visually stunning.

The voices of Alex Humphreys and Diego Rodriguez as Sarah Brown and Sky Masterson were nothing short of spectacular. I admired their meticulous stylistic approach to the music, and in moments together, their vocal harmony was just as beautiful as their chemistry as characters. I applaud both of them for their fantastic work in these roles.

As I exited the theater, I found myself pondering the relevance of staging a show like Guys and Dolls in 2023. The 1950 show didn’t shy away from portraying the female characters as mere accessories to their male counterparts (implied by the term “Dolls” used throughout the show). This classic production continues to captivate audiences and evoke a warm sense of nostalgia, yet it raises the question: Can Golden Age shows be adapted for modern times? This is something I often contemplate as a lover of Golden Age works, but I sometimes cringe at its outdated dialogue.

Another brilliantly done Musical Theater Department show is nearly in the books— There is one more opportunity to catch Guys And Dolls at the Lydia Mendelsohn on Sunday, October 15, at 2 pm. The Musical Theater Department will be performing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee starting NEXT weekend, running from October 19 to 29 at the Encore Theater in Dexter, MI. It’s a show not to be missed!



Photo thanks to The University of Michigan SMTD Facebook, 2023.

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