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Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment

Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment

This Musical Classic runs through December 31st.

Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment When going to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main St., in Little Rock, it is expected that they take their shows to the next level, because they are, after all, The Rep. GUYS & DOLLS, which plays through December 31, is a Broadway staple that is beloved by the entire theatre community. There is a lot of pressure bringing a classic of this merit to the stage without people expecting perfection. However, I stake my reputation in saying that this production was definitely next level. So much so, that I declare it Broadway level.

With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, GUYS & DOLLS is based off of characters written by Damon Runyon, who had a penchant for gambling. The musical follows gamblers Nathan Detroit (Carlos Lopez) and Sky Masterson (Christian McQueen) chasing after a dice game and their lady interests Sergeant Sarah Brown (Kim Onah) and Miss Adelaide (Stephanie Gibson). The show produced severalReview: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment catchy musical numbers like "A Bushel and a Peck," "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," my favorite "Fugue for Tinhorns," and the popular "Luck Be a Lady" that has been one of Frank Sinatra's staple songs in his repertoire throughout the years. Bob Fosse has been quoted as saying that GUYS & DOLLS is "the greatest American musical of all time," and the public seems to have agreed since the Broadway Musical won Tony Awards in 1951 and again in 1992 (which I saw in New York).

As you walk into the theatre, the set grabs your attention right away. It's beautiful! Signs are hanging from the ceiling, there is a newsstand stage right, they make use of an upper platform, and centerstage in the air (ok, not really in the air) is the fabulous band, led by Music Director Michael Rice, that entertains throughout the performance. At times, they were as much fun to watch as the characters.

Now, let's talk about this ah-mazing cast! Directed and choreographed by Gustavo Zajac, The Rep brought in some visiting artists that have literally graced the Broadway stages. My Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment friend and I were deciding if Carlos Lopez were more like Danny DeVito or Mel Brooks. Though we compromised that it was a mixture of both, it was undeniable how great he was as Nathan Detroit. His chemistry with his leading lady Stephanie Gibson (Miss Adelaide) was endearing. It was just as wonderful watching them canoodle as it was watching them fight. Their duet "Sue Me" was an engaging collaborative moment that had you picking sides-you'll never guess who I was in agreeance (you get him, girl!) Ms. Gibson was so funny. Her interpretation of Miss Adelaide was cheeky and had me rolling every time she was on stage. Christian McQueen (Sky Masterson) was suave and charismatic and owned whatever space he commanded. Sarah Brown never had a chance with him coming after her. And, Kim Onah had a determination in her words and steps that suggested she was a very serious missionary, but then went soft when being schmoozed by Sky.

It was said that the local pool of talent is tremendous, and that couldn't be more correct. P. Jay Clark as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Ben Grimes as Benny Southstreet had me giggling all through the play. They were the perfect comedic pair, and even though they didn't do the choreographic tricks as the other dancers, I adored them just the same. Sharing in the gambling shenanigans were Kevin Alan Brown as Rusty Charlie, Frederick Webb, Jr. as Harry the Horse, and David Weatherly as Big Jule. Chasing around the gamblers but never quite catching them was Grant Alan Watkins as Lt. Brannigan, and backing up Sgt. Brown was loveable Glen J. Gilbert as Arvide Abernathy and demanding Kathryn A. Pryor as General Matilda B Cartwright.

Speaking of the choreography, there were so many tricks in the group numbers, you didn't know which dancer to watch. The hot Havana number featured Dance Captain Camila Cardona and had the ensemble dancing it out Cuban style. Equally, The Crap Shooters dance was wild and visually exciting to watch. The Hot Box numbers were super cute,Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment especially with those dazzling costumes, created by Stacey Herrison and her crew. "Take Back Your Mink" had the Dolls going from elegant formal wear to jazz club showgirl attire right there on stage. The missionary's uniforms were a great contrast to the bold colors that the gamblers and dancers flashed.

The production numbers wouldn't be near as magnanimous without the incredible ensemble that shimmied and swayed throughout the show. Members included Brian Earles, Brianna East, Hannah Fairman, Hannah Hill, Louisa Mauze, Augustine Nguyen, Arnie Rodriguez, Molly Rosenthal, Brad Weatherford, Ethan Patrick, and Caroline Perry.

The behind-the-scenes theatre magic was performed by Production Stage Manager R. Christopher Maxwell, Assistant Stage Managers Kelli Cool and Kelsey Pulzone, Scenic Designer Michael Riha, Lighting Designer Matthew Webb, and Sound Designer Cavett Luke Mitchell.

If you are looking for something super cool to do for New Years, there will be a special performance and party at The Rep with this astounding group of entertainers. Seats are filling up. For tickets, visit their website at therep.org/guys-and-dolls.

Broadway World thanks Stephen B. Thornton of Thornton Media for these fabulous pictures. Check out their website at www. thorntonvisuals for all of your photography needs.

Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment

Review: GUYS & DOLLS at Arkansas Repertory Theatre is Broadway Level Entertainment



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