Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Director - Nathan Autrey
Music Director – Debra Young
Choreographer – Becca Brown
Set Design – Nathan Autrey and Keith Glenn
Lighting Design – Zane Whitney, Jr.
Costume Design – Lauren Morgan
Makeup Design and Assistant Costumer – Kelly King
Stage Manager – Maria Lozano
Dance Captain – Amanda Merrill
Evan Faris as Nicely-Nicely Johnson
Gary Payne as Benny Southstreet
Alex Krus as Rusty Charlie
Zane Whitney as Harry The Horse
Trey West as Nathan Detroit
Michael Kreitzinger as Sky Masterson
Walter Betts as Big Jule
Michael Rudd as Angie The Ox
John Tyler Shults as Liver Lips Louie
Christian Schmoker as Society Max
Becca Brown as Miss Adelaide
Sarah Zabinski as Mimi
Cheryl King as General Cartwright
Delmar Dolber as Arvide Abernathy
Timothy Betts as Calvin
Lauren Morgan as Sarah Brown
Karen James as Agatha
Christine Sheehan as Martha
And…Rod James as Lt. Brannigan
Reviewed Performance 7/27/2013
Reviewed by LK Fletcher, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
If you have attended more than three or four high school musicals in your life time, chances are you have seen the perennial favorite Guys and Dolls. Not only is it nifty-fifties with catchy tunes and great characters, it is fun! It is indeed Frank Loesser’s 1950 “musical fable of Broadway”. Stolen Shakespeare Guild has a steady finger on the pulse of what works. Their season of shows has been critically acclaimed and popular, and in their stated “passion to bring classic theater to new life in the 21st century” they have a genuine crowd pleaser with Guys and Dolls.
The show pops with an immediate energy in the opening dynamic tableau, with vivid platform set pieces that revolve throughout the production. Opening jitters and a packed house contributed to a frantic pace and a few minor mishaps, none of which lost a very engaged audience.
The overall impact of the musical was a piece that was well rehearsed, beautifully placed with great stage pictures, interesting sight lines, thoughtful movement and pacing, and just plain fun. The cast, like many local theater companies, had a variance of talent and experience, most of which did not defer from the program.
There were a few opening night snags in the fabric of this particular production most of it was hidden where it was not immediately apparent to an audience who had a wonderful evening. The least uniform part of the production was the dancing of the Hat Box girls which was inconsistent and not as polished as the rest of the production. The ensemble, which is a busy group of actors playing multiple roles, was not consistent. Timing and focus tightened throughout the show but was not on the same level as the principals. There were a few misdemeanors in dropped lines and lyrics all in the first act.
The singing was solid, especially the large choral numbers which were very well done. Excellent full choral sound, balanced and expressive with appropriate tempos was a pleasant change from many productions of the same show.
Miss Sarah’s lyric soprano (Lauren Morgan) was a definitive highlight and the perfect sound for her ingénue role. Morgan had a strong and appropriate presence with love interest Sky Masterson. Her very legit lyric soprano was beautifully controlled and by far the voice of the evening. Chemistry on stage between the two romantic dues worked well for both Sky and Sarah.
Likewise, Nathan Detroit (Trey West) and Miss Adelaide (Becca Brown) were charming in both their character work and their New York vocal stylings. Trey West turned it on in Act Two, when the timing which was fast throughout- clicked. There were some wonderful moments of just good listening, good directing and physicality between West and Brown that made the show delightful. West has lots of potential as a top comic.
I need to also mention how much I appreciate Becca Brown’s performance as Miss Adelaide. A natural comic and a good listener, she never pushed her very capable vocals past where the character was. Adelaide can easily be a very two dimensional character with a loud, brassy actress who ignores nuance and musicality for grand standing, over blown past the audience’s sympathy. Miss Brown did none of these.
Sky Masterson (Michael Kreitzinger) warmed up slowly as a singer to what is an innately good instrument. His charisma, good looks and sheer ability are more than adequate for the role. He showed a great deal of ability as a physical actor adding a youthful and believable charm and authority to the role.
Keep your eyes out for a few really exceptional moments. Veteran Delmar Dolbier as Arvide Abernathy had a beautiful duet with Sarah (Lauren Morgan). There was also the very well done “Sue Me” duet between Nathan and Adelaide, and of course the rockin’ “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat” ensemble number.
The show was artfully accompanied by a solo pianist who was top notch. Sound in the theater and balance were never a problem.
Lighting, though well operated, left several tableaus in the dark or in shadow. I must offer a disclaimer though. The theater is small and that effect can be very different depending on where in the audience you are seated. From 3rd row center I missed a lot of visibility in the stage right area.
Costumes were terrific. Hat Box girls especially had some adorable costume changes and the gangsters were in their spats and zoot suits, looking keen. Hair and makeup likewise were appropriate and well done. The iconic look of Guys and Dolls was not sacrificed for something new and different.
I took the opportunity to speak with the director of Guys and Dolls, Nathan Autrey, immediately following the production.
So I asked, “What did you think?” He was quick and positive in his response that he thought it went really well. I asked if there were any surprises to which he quickly laughed and said, “A couple, but I am not going to tell you!” (Smart man).
I was curious in his approach to bringing a classic to the stage and asked what he brought new to this piece and how he felt he put his signature on it. Autrey replied that one of his signatures is the use of tableaus, which he did indeed do a lovely job of, and in his choice in casting young(er) male leads, both of whom he gleefully found in first round of auditions.
Autrey was very intentional and proud of the pacing of his production. He wanted the audience to come watch a classical musical that “most people would consider boring” and not be bored. Autrey’s input was to make sure the show was “a whole lot of fun, a whole lot of energy and constantly moving.” He was quick to explain that, “We’re in a post-modern world where our youth take information in so fast and if it is not moving fast enough they are not interested.” To his credit, it was a fast engaging show.
My data collector, who is ten, attended the show with me. I asked her how she would rate the show on a scale of 1 to 10. She systematically gave each category - acting, singing, dancing, sets . . . snacks - a 10. However, her overall rating for the production was a 9. I asked her why, to which she replied, “It was over too soon”. Must have been Autrey’s pacing.
Good job, Stolen Shakespeare Guild. The musical fable of Broadway continues.
GUYS AND DOLLS
Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Fort Worth Community Arts Center
The Sanders Theater, 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth, TX 76107
Production runs through August 11th
Friday-Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm
Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm with one matinee Saturday July 20th at 2:00pm.
Ticket prices range from $15.00 - $20.00 with a $2.00 discount for students and seniors. Evening tickets are $18.00, $17.00 for seniors 65+, $16.00 for students with ID, and $10.00 children 12 under. Matinee tickets are $15.00 and same for seniors and students, $10.00 for children.
For more info & tix: www.stolenshakespeareGuild.org or call Theatre Mania at 1-866-811-4111.