*Performances of Guys and Dolls took place in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre from October 5-8 and 12-15*
On the many websites promoting SMTD’s performance of Guys and Dolls, it was called a “true crowd pleaser,” and it truly was! Guys and Dolls is a brilliant romantic comedy built around lies and deceit with themes of religion and gambling. I found myself smiling the entire two hours of the show. Because I’m so accustomed to classical music where the audience only claps at the end, I was surprised when the crowd cheered after each song. That added to the excitement and joy in the theatre, and before I knew it time flew by.
The acting, singing, and dancing were the highlight of the show. Performers in this production were all students in the Department of Musical Theatre, but they embodied their characters so well I couldn’t see them as anybody but their character even as they were taking their bows. I loved how they never left their roles when the curtains dropped, the lights turned off, and they exited the stage. They captured the regional slang and accents perfectly while singing too! I had trouble understanding at times, but that just indicates the cast’s mastery in embodying New Yorkers in the 1950s.
The main characters were gambler Nathan Detroit, played by Chad Marge (Senior, BFA Musical Theatre); Nathan’s girlfriend and night club performer Adelaide, played by Catie Leonard (Junior, BFA Musical Theatre); gambler Sky Masterson, played by Diego Rodriguez (Senior, BFA Musical Theatre); and the straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown, played by Alex Humphreys (Senior, BFA in Musical Theatre).
The musical opened with the orchestra, and afterward, beautiful props such as neon store signs representative of Times Square were brought onto the stage. Following soon after was a charming dance hinting at the motif of flirtatious and sleazy love. The work of choreographer Mara Newbery Greer was just fantastic overall. The dances showed off the talent of the cast by incorporating full usage of the body through leaps and acrobatics as well as adding personality befitting of the song and scene. My favorite choreography was Luck Be a Lady featuring Sky & Crapshooters, which emphasized Sky’s charm. Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat by Nicely-Nicely & Company was super fun too, and definitely one of the comedic highlights.
My absolute favorite song was My Time of Day/I’ve Never Been in Love Before, a duet between Sky and Sarah that concluded Act I. Their voices had such gorgeous contrasts when harmonizing and responding to one another. Everyone’s singing was so stable and clear as if they were in a studio and not dancing, jumping, and running around.
I was surprised that the musical was being performed at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre since it’s small compared to other venues, but they made great use of space by incorporating the actual theatre exit and aisles into their play. Props to the Creative Team, Production Crew, Running Crew, and Orchestra for making it possible to have such a smooth showing of Guys and Dolls. I can see why it won so many awards and is so popular, and the experience made me determined to watch more musicals!