BWW Review: GUYS AND DOLLS Scores a Royal Flush at the Players Guild Of Dearborn
Guys and Dolls marked Kim Donovan's directorial debut 27 years at the Players Guild of Dearborn. She was pregnant at the time with her daughter, Maura. Frank Loesser's score must have channeled Maura's musical theatre talents in utero as she's now starring as Adelaide, "the well-known fiancée," in the Players Guild of Dearborn's 2018 production of Guys and Dolls serendipitously directed by Kim Donovan.
To say that this version has aged quite well over the years is an understatement.
Donovan's 2018 production brings back some of the old guard in fabulous twists to complement this not-to-be-missed holiday crowd pleaser. Take Paul Abbott for instance. Twenty-seven years ago, he played a gambler, shooting craps onstage with his fellow actors. Now he artfully guides his talented orchestra as the Music Director and keyboardist.
Guys and Dolls musically chronicles good overcoming evil starting with members of the Save-a-Soul Mission, including Lia Bertucci as the innocent Sarah Brown, roaming the streets of NYC trying to reform sinners. She and her merry band of do-gooders target gamblers. In an attempt to raise money to hold the latest crap game, Nathan Detroit (Kenyada Davis) bets Sky Masterson (Mark Wagner) that Masterson cannot land a date with the Mission "doll" Sarah Brown. Meanwhile, Adelaide (Maura Donovan), the star of the Hot Box Revue, has been waiting and waiting and waiting for 14 years to walk down the matrimonial aisle with Detroit. Along the way, General Cartwright comes to town, ready to shut down the Mission, so Sky Masterson bets again to have 12 genuine -betting sinners arrive at a prayer meeting and prove to Cartwright that the Save-a- Soul Mission is, indeed, saving souls.
Kudos to Choreographer Xavier Bush for providing energy and innovation to Guys & Dolls numbers especially "Luck Be a Lady/Crapshooters Dance," "Bushel and a Peck," and "A Night in Havana." Bush brought together a talented group of colorfully clad Hot Box girls and crapshooters.
As they sing about chemistry, Bertucci and Wagner, as Sarah and Sky, certainly have that. Comedic chemistry is off the charts with Davis and Donovan as Nathan and Adelaide, and the two excel at it all. While the role of Arvide Abernathy, Sarah's uncle, is typically played by a male, Nancy Valentini is now Aunt Arvide in this production. Valentini's beautiful vocals and genuine maternal tenderness towards Sarah is so touching in "More I Cannot Wish You," that you wonder why this wasn't the optimum character choice in the first place. And while the role of General Cartwright is typically non-descript and utilitarian, Denise Kowalewski-Tucker is priceless as a flirtatious lush.
Players Guild of Dearborn audience favorite Brian Townsend, as Nicely Nicely Johnson, has expertly taken schtick to a new level, with a lovable, funny demeanor and vocal storytelling gift of "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat." Mark Maccagnone (Benny Southstreet), David Wood (Lt. Brannigan), Adam Lynch (Harry the Horse), Joe Donovan (Big Jule) and Sebastian Adams (Rusty) have all developed stand-out characters and are spotlighted onstage with a group of very talented singers and dancers including Meg Brokenshire, Lily Tack, Kristen Campbell, Malissa Bossardet, Amy Jones, Carissa Lokken, Maria Viscomi, Michael Rea, Tim Carney, Jeff Lokken, Patrick Davidson, Matthew VanHouten, Garrett Herman, Kris Wright and Kevin Talanges.
Guys and Dolls runs at 8 p.m. November 30 and December 1 and at 2:30 p.m. at the Players Guild of Dearborn, 21730 Madison in Dearborn. Reserved tickets are $20 and can be bought at the door, by calling 313-561-TKTS or by going online to the playersguildofdearborn.org.
Photo by Jennifer Deckert
Mark Wagner as Sky Masterson, Lia Bertucci as Sarah Brown, Kenyada Davis as Nathan Detroit and Maura Donovan as Adelaide