Review: GUYS AND DOLLS at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace

Production runs through June 9

By: Apr. 19, 2024
Review: GUYS AND DOLLS at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace
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I got the horse right here…

Frank Loesser wrote those words. Abe Burrows and Jo Sperling wrote the book which is based upon a story and characters created by the great writer Damon Runyon. The show is, of course, Guys and Dolls currently playing at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace through June 9.

It is not often produced. Drury Lane’s production was well worth the wait! Under the superb direction of Tony nominated Dan Knechtages, Damon Runyon’s fabled world becomes a dazzling reality. A side note: Runyon passed away before the original 1950 production with Robert Alda and Isabel Bigley opened on Broadway.

Sky Masterson (Pepe Nufrio in his bravura Drury Lane debut) and Nathan Detroit (the fast talking, energetic Jackson Evans), Nathan’s long suffering fiancé of 14 years and dancer at the Hot Box (the engaging Alanna Lovely) and the Save-a-Soul mission Sergeant Sarah Brown (Jeff award winner Erica Stephan) are the four main characters.

The supporting characters are so integral to this story. Nkrumah Gatling (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) brings down the house in the second act at the Save-a-Soul Mission. Christopher Llewyn Ramirez (Benny Southstreet), Spencer Davis Milford (Rusty Charlie) and scene stealing Jordan Anthony Arredondo (Harry the Horse).

The story is centered on Nathan trying to find a new place for his illegal crap game, Miss Adelaide wanting to marry Nathan, Sky making a bet that he can get Sarah to go to Havana with him and Sarah trying to fill the mission with sinners at a prayer meeting. Sky does persuade Sarah to go with him. Nathan uses the sewer for his illegal game. Sky makes a bet with all the gamblers that if he throws winning dice, they will show up at the mission.  Sky wins and he takes the gamblers to the mission for the prayer meeting.

The number of sinners at the mission impresses General Cartwright (Heidi Kettenring in another comedic gem), especially Big Jule (KC McNeil in his Drury debut).  As Adelaide and Nathan are trying to leave to get married, the mission band arrives with its new leader Sky Masterson. He and Sarah were married at the mission by Sarah’s grandfather, Arvide (Gene Weygandt). In front of all the guys and dolls, Nathan and Adelaide are married to the delight of the assembled group of Runyon’s Broadway characters.

How does a show have two show-stopping numbers in the same act? Choreography by director Dan Knechtges with an amazing group of dancers/singers and a great score being performed by the Drury Lane Orchestra under the direction of Chris Sargent. That’s how. This is one of a handful of shows where the men outnumber the women and the music is really showcasing the male voice. The harmonies are exceptional. The set design by Angela Weber Miller is so old fashioned New York. The sewer design for the crap game is eye popping. The Havana scene feels tropical. Leon Dobkowski’s costumes are true to the period. So many Fedoras and not one alike. Guys and Dolls is a show to be seen and enjoyed. Vibrant, energetic and just fun. Sometimes an old fashioned Broadway show is needed. Guys and Dolls is that show.


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