BWW Review: Lyric Arts Empowers Romance in Endearing GUYS AND DOLLS

BWW Review: Lyric Arts Empowers Romance in Endearing GUYS AND DOLLS
Beahen's Adelaide and Goodman's Detroit

Guys and Dolls, a charming musical opening a half century ago on Broadway in 1951, reminisces New York's hidden society-gamblers, exotic dancers and "sinners"-along with the missionaries who tried to redeem them. A story based on a series of short stories by Damon Runyon, Jo Sweeney and Abe Burrows created the book together with Frank Loesser's mesmerizing melodies and lyrics that brings the tale of two determined young women, Adelaide and Sarah, to life. The musical was eventually denied a Pulitzer Prize because one of the producers was blacklisted, and this retells another fascinating story in itself.

As the title implies, Guys and Dolls resonates with themes that appear outdated, a clash between the masculine and feminine revisited in 1950's vernacular. Yet, the musical's heart and soul revolves around romance, and love, which remains a quintessential quality of humanity. Sixty years later, the lyrics resonate with the words: Picture a Minnesota man so in love with a Mississippi girl he moves to Biloxi...Love is the thing that's licked 'em...When you see a guy reach for the stars in the sky, love can bet he's doing it for a doll.

The two dolls, or female leads, Kate Beahen's Adelaide and Quinn Shadko's Sarah often steal the show. Beahen embodies Adelaide, who's been engaged 14 years to Nathan Detroit, and charms the audience with her expressive gestures and humor-exquisite comic timing. Shadko's lovely voice and personal transformation from missionary to a 'wild" woman experiencing Havana for the forest time gives the show a believable vibe. These outspoken 50's women sing more than a shrinking violet or females that need rescuing--they willingly reveal their desires and personalities.

Equally compelling, their male counterparts Rodolfo Nieto's Sky Masterson and Jonathan Goodman's Nathan Detroit learn to appreciate their winning dolls in admirable style. By the finale, the two guys realize that romance is always a calculated chance where two people might win big with their hearts instead of their pocketbooks.

Director Matt McNabb continually attempts to delve into a production's soul, whatever decade the show was first produced. In Guys and Dolls, McNabb fine tunes the original story to empower the female cast, and enjoys the romance in this iconic story, including "I've Never Been in Love Before." Several beautiful Frank Loesser songs include the wistful "More I Cannot Wish You" and "Adelaide's Second Lament." In the "Second Lament," Adelaide reminds the audience being in love carries psychosomatic illnesses-a cold, the sniffles, and perhaps even the flu-something everyone in the audience might relate to.

Other memorable songs by Loesser bring back memories with his "A Bushel and A Peck," "Havana," "Take Back Your Mink," and those crowd favorites "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," and "Luck Be A Lady."

Lyric Arts uses a minimal stage designed by Eli Sherlock while Lauri Kraft's choreography entertains the audience, especially in "Havana" and "Sit Down, You're Rockon' the Boat." Kurt Jung's lighting design inhabits the importance of a character in the production as the lights glimmer and shimmer to the emotional tenor the stage the entire two plus hours, while Musical Director Natalie McComas conducts a great eight piece orchestra for the huge stylish and talented cast dressed in period attire by Costume Designer Samantha Kuhn Staneart.

While humor and music create a joyful ambiance throughout the theater until the grand finale, audiences may then realize love can be transformative in their lives, too. This message continually speaks to any generation, in any decade, because discovering love in life can change the course of any person's, including a special someone's, personal future. Each of these four characters grows and matures throughout the two acts until the end, and the four win big in their alternate paths.. McNabb succinctly adds, "These {characters) people learn something about themselves, discover what's important in their lives."

Perhaps as the audience sings and sits in the theater, they can realize the transformative power of love in their own life, or begin to believe in the power of love and romance all year long. Lyric Arts endearing Guys and Dolls will truly bring a summer high to July and August. And to quote a line from the show: "More I Cannot Wish You."

Lyric Arts presents Guys and Dolls in the Main Street Stage, 420 East Main Street, Anoka, through August 5. For information or tickets regarding season tickets for the 2018-2019 season or the current production, please visit: www.lyricarts.org.

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From This Author Peggy Sue Dunigan

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