GUYS AND DOLLS
Book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Based on The Idyll of Sarah Brown and characters by Damon Runyon
Granbury Theatre Company
Director – Greg Doss
Assistant Director – Bentleigh Nesbit
Music Director – Jeremy Bowen
Choreographer – Brittany Jenkins
Assistant Choreographer – Jadie Phelps
Scenic Designer – Kerri Pavelick
Costume Designer – Emily Warwick
Propmaster – Gaylene Carpenter
Lighting Designer – David Broberg
Sound Designer – Kyle Hoffman
Technical Director – Kalani Morissette
Stage Manager – Brittany Brown
CAST FOR REVIEWED PERFORMANCE
Sky Masterson - Sam Bullington
Nathan Detroit - Matt Beutner
Sarah Brown - Kelsey Grace Kilgore
Miss Adelaide - Mia Cree Washington
Nicely-Nicely Johnson - JD Choate
Benny Southstreet - Andrew Bullard
Rusty Charlie - Charles Mason
Harry the Horse - Juice Houston
Big Julie - Ashely Green
Lt. Brannigan - Kevin Baum
Arvide Abernathy - Tim Herndon
General Matilda B Cartwright - Connie Ingram
Martha - Cheyenne Shreve
Calvin - Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis
Agatha - Cessany Ford
Joey Biltmore - Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis
Hot Box Girls - Stephanie Cessna, Cessany Ford, Brooke Goodson, Jenna Hagan, Jadie Phelps, Cheyenne Shreve
Dance Corps - Andrew Bullard, Levi Casler, Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis, Juice Houston, Colton Lively, Logan Throckmorton
Ensemble - Levi Casler, Charles Cummins, Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis, Colton Lively, Cheyenne Shreve, Logan Throckmorton
Reviewed Performance: 3/31/2018
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950 and ran for 1200 performances. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical and has had several Broadway and London revivals. I was first exposed to Guys and Dolls through the film adaptation staring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blain. Comedy ensues as the actors learn more about themselves and life through the choices they make.
Guys and Dolls opened in the beautiful historic Granbury Opera House, located in downtown Granbury, TX. It tells the comedic story of gamblers Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson who, while they have many physical differences and gamble in different venues, are both united in their love of gambling. Detroit bets Masterson $1000 that he couldn’t take a certain doll to Cuba, but not just any doll, the hardest to get doll on Broadway. Comedy ensues as Detroit and Masterson learn more about themselves and relationships, and while they may not change immediately, they eventually find the things that really matter.
I was amazed at the vocal talent that was on display during this production. From the deep strong voice of Sam Bullington playing the part of Sky Mastersen to the nasality of Mia Cree Washington playing Miss Adelaide, each actor had a very distinctive, yet instantly recognizable voice that fit in perfectly with their character. They were under the music direction of Jeremy Bowen who helped them combine to create performance that you could fully immerse yourself in.
The choreography by Brittany Jenkins was lively and constant. The actors were able to accomplish the patterns, though there were times that they were off time and struggled to remember their sequences. For many dance numbers they placed the more experienced dancers toward the front of the stage, who unfortunately blocked off the other dancers due to their height. These more experienced dancers did very well with the choreography, though I would have liked to see a more unified dance corp. The movement in ‘Luck be a Lady’ was constant and engaging. I wanted to see more like it.
The first thing that I noticed when the curtains opened were the signs depicting a busy street on Broadway. This combined perfectly with the constant movement of the characters in the opening sequence. They were able to show the hustle and bustle that is characteristic of New York. Kerri Pavelick was the scenic designer for the production. I appreciated the details added in the scenic design and how it was constant in depicting the correct location. From the quieter, somber tones of the Save-a-Soul mission to the glamour of the Hot Box Café and Havana Cuba, Pavelick focused on the details. Outdoor street signs lit up. The mission had scriptures and hymns hanging on the wall. Palm fronds sprouted from the stage lights while we were in Cuba. The scenic design fit in perfectly with the play.
The costumes were very consistent throughout the performance, showing us Broadway in the 1950’s. Costume designer Emily Warwick made very good choices in the attire for the characters, from the simplicity of the Save-a-Soul mission uniform to the suits worn by the gambler men and Big Julie. They contrasted the differences between the two groups. I thoroughly enjoyed the Latin flair from Cuba that was incorporated into the Havana scene. Cuban men danced in tropical shirts and loose slacks in comparison to the high roller suits of the men in New York. I particularly enjoyed seeing the women of the ensemble dressed so well throughout the show. Each role got the attention needed to have unique costumes that coordinated with their characters. This really strengthened the supporting roles.
The props as designed by Gaylene Carpenter fit in perfectly with the performance. From the dice used by the gamblers to the coconut cups in Havana and the gun used by Big Julie, the props helped bring the set and performance to life. I appreciated the thought and detail that Carpenter put into her prop choices and how they were unique to the different aspects of the show.
The lighting, designed by David Broberg, was consistent in illuminating the characters and helped to focus the attention where it needed to be. I appreciated the simplicity and the clarity of the lighting and how it helped to place the characters in the different settings, from the sunny beaches of Havana to the quiet somber tones of Save-a-Soul Mission. The sound also helped to keep my focus in the correct place. Kyle Hoffman designed the sound for the production. The actor’s voices were clear and consistent for the performance. The music and sound effects were at a good level and helped to bring me into the story. I also appreciated how the music never overpowered the singers or the action taking place onstage.
Sky Masterson, the very successful gambler that has a good knowledge of the bible, was played by Sam Bullington. I was amazed by his strong, deep voice and appreciated the confidence that Bullington showed on stage. His powerful voice contrasted very nicely with the voice of Kelsey Grace Kilgore, playing the part of Sarah Brown. The song ‘Luck be a Lady’ was also very well done in its dynamics and energy. I would have liked to see more movement from Bullington for the duet with Kilgore ‘I’ll Know’; there was mostly standing and singing. But I was impressed by his consistent accent and natural body language. The way Bullington kept adjusting his suit coat presented him as a successful (though illicit) businessman.
Matt Beutner played the part of Nathan Detroit, the man that didn’t gamble much personally but facilitated the gambling of others for a small fee. Beutner was dynamic in his role and did very well with the smooth, fast talking dialogue. I also loved his accent. It fit the part of a wily gambler so well. Beutner also did well modulating his expression, from feigned confidence as he planned an illegal crap game, to panic when he couldn’t get it all together, to adoration around his doll. Beutner did an excellent job of showing the many facets of his character.
Kelsey Grace Kilgore played the part of Sarah Brown, the incredibly naïve, yet talented, sergeant for Save-a-Soul mission. Kilgore has an incredible voice, which was very apparent during the songs ‘If I Were a Bell’ and ‘I’ll Know’. I appreciated her acting as well, especially contrasting how her character behaved in the mission to how she interacts with Sky in Havana. Kilgore kept her back straight and expression stern as she stared down the sinners of Broadway. In Cuba she smiled intoxicatingly and loosened up enough to dance languidly. In every song Kilgore showed the underlying propriety that pervades her characters life.
Mia Cree Washington was phenomenal in her role of Miss Adelaide. She had a commanding presence that demanded your attention every time she was onstage. Her infectious smile and nasal voice showed her to be a loving, if simple, individual. Her vocal performance was very impressive, especially during the Hot Box performances. Her dancing wasn’t as strong as I would have liked for a night club performer but her comedic timing during ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ showed her to be a strong performer.
JD Choate provided excellent support in his role as Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Choate showed excitement for all the gambling opportunities he found. He sang well. I enjoyed his lamentation with Benny Southstreet in “Guys and Dolls” and strong performance in “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” I particularly enjoyed how Choate went from a shuffling, nervous gambler in a mission to someone intent on singing his message. All his mannerisms made Choate an excellent accomplice of Nathan Detroit.
Benny Southstreet provided a lot of comic relief the way Andrew Bullard presented him. Bullard always had some humorous prop or mannerism to get the audience to smile and laugh. One moment he might be arguing with Nathan Detroit with a half-eaten bagel stuck in his mouth. The next he’s announcing the line-up at the hot box while reading his cues from off his hand. Bullard also has a strong voice. I really enjoyed hearing him in “Guys and Dolls;” there his comedic voice set the tone for the show.
Juice Houston asserted himself well as Harry the Horse, an important gambler in New York. Houston carried himself well for the part. He looked down on the other gamblers and boomed out threats as needed to maintain his position in New York’s gambling rings.
Ashley Green successfully broke up the monotony of gambling men in her role as Big Julie. She carried herself well, rolling her eyes in exasperation when the little people came to talk to her, snapping her jacket straight when she put people in their place and smirking whenever she won a die roll. All these little things made Green’s character Julie the frustrating and intimidating criminal that she was.
The role of Arvide Abernathy, played by Tim Herndon, deserves a special note. While Herndon’s role was small, his voice was incredible. For Act I we didn’t hear any singing from him and only got to see him constantly beat out the rhythm for the mission’s chants. But in Act II he consoles Sarah in “More I Cannot Wish You” and I was amazed by his voice. Herndon may have had a small role, but he did it well.
Connie Ingram had the role of General Matilda B Cartwright, the high-ranking authority in the mission who came to view its progress. Though her time on stage in that role was brief Cartwright did it well. She turned a harsh eye on the mission, her face showing her displeasure at what was going on there. I enjoyed the way she kept flipping through a bible as she looked for scripture verses. It made her character very real to me.
Guys and Dolls is a high energy, fast paced show. The show is done with such detail that it’s easy to enjoy and the vocal talent is incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed Granbury Theatre Company’s rendition of the musical and recommend it if you’re looking for a good quality performance.
Guys and Dolls
Granbury Theatre Company
133 E Pearl Street
Granbury, TX 76048
Performances run through April 29th
Performance times are 7:30 P.M. on Fridays, 2:00 P.M. and 7:30 P.M. on Saturdays, and 2:00 P.M. on Sundays.
TICKET PRICES for Guys and Dolls
Ticket prices are $30 for prime seating and $25 in standard seating. Discounts are available for senior citizens, active duty military personnel, veterans, students, and children as well as for groups of ten or more.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.granburytheatrecompany or call the box office at (817) 579-0952.