Review Roundup: GUYS AND DOLLS At Milwaukee Repertory Theatre
GUYS AND DOLLS runs through October 29 at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. This celebrated musical comedy follows two small-time gamblers as they pursue love and luck, from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba. The show has a book by Joe Swerling and Abe Burrows and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. GUYS AND DOLLS features songs such as, "A Bushel And A Peck," "Luck Be A Lady," and "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat."
The cast stars Nicholas Rodriguez as Sky Masterson, Richard R. Henry as Nathan Detroit, Kelley Faulkner as Miss Adelaide, Michael J. Farina as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Emma Rose Brooks as Sarah Brown, Adrian Aguilar as Benny Southstreet, BrIan Collier as Angie the Ox, Matt Daniels as Lt. Brannigan, Di'Monte Henning as Harry the Horse, David Hess as Arvide Abernathy, Gerry McIntyre as Rusty Charlie, NaTonia Monet as Allison/Agatha, KariLyn Ashley Surratt as Martha/Ferguson, Tiffany Topol as Mimi, Andrew Varela as Big Jule, and Virginia Woodruff as Gen. Matilda Cartwright.
GUYS AND DOLLS is directed by Mark Clements, with musical direction by Dan Kazemi, choreography by Stephen Mear, scenic design by Scott Davis, costume design by Alexander B. Tecoma, lighting design by Jason Fassl, and sound design by Megan B. Henniger.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Gwen Rice, OnMilwaukee: From the four distinguished leads, to the chorus people who play many different bit parts, the cast shines in their musical numbers. The comically repressed "mission doll" Sister Sarah (Emma Rose Brooks) has a thin, trilly soprano that easily scales the heights of "I'll Know" and "I've Never Been in Love Before." As the Hot Box performer Adelaide, Kelly Faukner lends her strong, brassy voice to both her comic vaudeville numbers and her beleaguered pleas to her fiancé, Nathan Detroit, to finally marry her after a 14-year engagement... The only thing better than the music in this production is the dancing, which is extensive. Led by several highly trained performers who bring balletic touches to Stephen Mear's dazzlingly energetic and inventive choreography, the rest of the cast keeps up with routines that are incredibly well executed.
Paul Kosidowski, Milwaukee Magazine: Playing these "guys and dolls" require powerful vocal pipes and sure-footed dance moves, and this cast doesn't disappoint. It also requires a knack for the particular rhythms and attitude of the Runyonesque characters. Here, the standouts are Faulkner and Farina. Faulkner has a great time with Miss Adelaide's gangster-moll stereotypes, while injecting them with both wit and humanity. Farina gives Nicely-Nicely an easy-going charm that fits snuggly with the stylized language of the play. The charm is contagious, of course. You'll feel it radiating from the stage, even in the splashiest production numbers. And you'll understand why Guys and Dolls is a musical for the ages.
Matthew Perta, Showbiz Chicago: Under Clements' tutelage, the cast of Guys and Dolls is equally stunning. Richard R. Henry displays perfect comedic timing as gambler Nathan Detroit. Nathan's nemesis, Sky Masterson, is also well played by Nicholas Rodriguez. Rodriguez demonstrates an impressive vocal range with the song, "I've Never Been in Love Before." Emma Rose Brooks excels as the stoic mission girl Sister Sarah Brown who finds true love much to her surprise; Brown wows the audience with a lovely singing voice that she packs with powerful emotion.
Harry Cherkinian, Shepherd Express: The Milwaukee Repertory Theater rolled the dice last weekend and came up a big winner with its spectacular production of the classic 1940s New York underworld musical, Guys & Dolls. Based on short stories and characters by Damon Runyon, The Rep has set the bar very high for its lead-off show as this production has it all: uniformly excellent cast, spot-on direction by Mark Clements, dazzling choreography by Stephen Mears, smart period costumes by Alexander B. Tacoma and the bright lights-dark city set design by Scott Davis.
Dominique Paul Noth, Urban Milwaukee: Some characters are meant to be broadly drawn and sung, such as the dryly personable Michael J. Farina as Nicely-Nicely Johnson. He is part of two show-stoppers- the title song "Guys and Dolls" and "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat." These are the times when expert song and dance can be loved for itself. But they are times that stand out in contrast here to the fake energy of other maneuvers.
Photo: Michael Brosilow/Milwaukeerep.com