Review: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's GUYS AND DOLLS

Now through November 20th, 2022.

By: Oct. 17, 2022
Review: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's GUYS AND DOLLS
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Guys and Dolls is a musical featuring lyrics and music by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrow and Jo Swerling. The production follows the lives of New York's underworld of guys who are cheats, gamblers and gangsters, and the dolls they love that make their lives even more complicated. It premiered on the Broadway stage in 1950. Many will remember the 1955 film version starring the all-star cast of Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine. So many memorable songs came from this production.

As the story opens, we find ourselves amongst the hustle and bustle of New York City as gamblers Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Leon S. Pitts), Benny Southstreet (Lee Hollis Bussie), and Rusty Charlie (Thomas-Matthew Elijah Shands) argue over which horse will win a big race, as members of local Save-a-Soul Mission, led by the righteous and beautiful Sergeant Sister Sarah Brown (Kirstin Angelina Henry) marches by harkening sinners to "Follow the Fold" and repent.

Nathan Detroit (Warren G. Nolan, JR.) is Nicely-Nicely and Benny's boss who manages an illegal crap game under the ever-present suspicious eye of policeman Lt. Brannigan (Michael Mejia-Mendez). Nathan finds a safe place for his next crap game at Joey Biltmore's garage, but Joey wants $1000 to secure the spot and Nathan doesn't have the money. Nathan plots to win that $1,000 bet against big-time gambler Sky Masterson (Brian L. Boyd). When Skye Agrees to the bet, Nathan chooses Sister Sarah as an object for a date, feeling this is a bet he can't lose.

The storyline cleverly wraps around Sky and Sister Sarah while allowing us to get to know Nathan's better half Miss Adelaide (Marta McKinnon) to whom he has been engaged for 14 years. Cast members take on their characters with understanding and deliver well timed comedic as well as heartwarming dramatic performances. Miss McKinnon plays Miss Adelaide with tenacity and blind love for Nathan. Miss Henry has a particularly stand-out voice that can reach the rafters. The duet "Marry the Man Today" with Miss McKinnon is worth waiting for to hear at the end of the production. Jacob Smith sweetly plays Sister Sarah's kind-souled Uncle Arvide Abernathy. His fatherly solo to Sarah "More I Cannot Wish You" is very touching and genuine. Mr. Nolan boldly embodies a nervous Nathan Detroit, on equal footing with Mr. Boyd as the cool Sky Masterson.

If you have been to any of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's productions, you know they excel at musicals and singing and dancing is always something to look forward to. This production did not disappoint. Cast members all had the chops to deliver solos, duets, and collaborative vocals as well as the feet and gams to keep this show moving. The production stayed true to the original version of Guys and Dolls, which to me is a tad long. A nice touch throughout the musical that added dimension were the rotating panels at the back of the stage that cleverly incorporated as a backdrop projecting various locations.

Being the first time to review WCBTT after their renovation, I would be remiss in not commenting on the theater itself from a theatre-goers standpoint. Overall, they have done an amazing job from the inside out. Forgivably the lobby lacks some much needed seating or high tops but the bar is upscale and well placed. Although the ladies powder room was beautifully done the line was still annoyingly long. The seats inside the theater are comfy and cozy however if you are seated next to a rail on either end of the stage, be aware there is no leg room or foot room. The band, at least during this production, was "upstairs" and often overpowered the vocals and dialogue.

Guys and Dolls runs through November 20, 2022. WCBTT promises another season of fine entertainment not to be missed.

Photo credit: Sorcha Augustine


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