BWW Review: GUYS AND DOLLS at Fulton Theatre
"Guys and Dolls" is one of the classics of American musical theater. Opening in 1950, the show is a light-hearted tale about New York City gamblers and the gals who love them. The Fulton Theater's production is a light, zippy take on it with mostly positive results.
Fran Prisco stars as Nathan Detroit, the long-time runner of one of New York's largest floating craps games. Prisco brings quirkiness to his performance, with a deep nod to Nathan Lane, who played the role in the show's most popular revival. Prisco is joined by the very capable Christine Sherrell, who stars as Detroit's long-suffering fiancée, Miss Adelaide. Sherrell shined in her many numbers, gaining both sympathy and laughs from the audience along the way.
Kevin Earley was less convincing as Sky Masterson, the renowned big-time gambler and tough guy. I found Earley's portrayal to be bland. His wholesome good looks, demeanor, and speech made him appear much more at ease with the "bible thumpers" than he ought to.
Whitney Winfield, played Sarah Brown with depth in both acting and singing. Her voice has an impressive range and she excelled with both traditional show tunes with those songs requiring a more operatic flair.
Other cast stand-outs include Randy Jeter and the creative and fun casting of Timmy Woodword, Jr. as Big Jule.
Costume choices for the show were consistently bright, bold and vibrant. The patterns and hues of the gamblers' clothes were just as colorful and diverse as their personalities. Likewise, the mission workers were adorned a deep red, perhaps a commentary on their bleeding hearts? I especially liked the choices for Lieutenant Brannigan, decked out in an eye-popping yellow hat and overcoat, reminiscent of the great Dick Tracy.
Choreography for Adelaide's two nightclub numbers was top-notch. However, the men's (very skillful) dance numbers hit upon one of my personal pet peeves. I believe the most effective choreography helps advance the story and should be a natural extension of the characters.
Therefore, I have a problem with many of the musicals of 1940's and 50's with a large male chorus. Most times, these shows feature a male chorus consisting of some type of hyper-masculine, blue collar occupation such as sailors, baseball players, or gangsters. They talk tough and they sing tough. Yet, eventually, they break out into extremely uncharacteristic dance moves like pirouettes and grand jetes. As an audience member, this instantly "takes me out of the zone".
"Guys and Dolls" at the Fulton is a light-hearted night at the theater. It will be especially appreciated by those who want to experience Broadway's golden age. The show runs now through March 31st. Tickets and more information can be found at the theater's website.