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Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!

Catch Arts Club’s annual summer musical until June 30th!

By: Jun. 07, 2024
Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!  Image
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This summer, the Arts Club brings the hustle and bustle of the streets of New York to the Vancouver stage! The ambition and excitement of the city is brought to life in this classic Broadway musical blending both humor and romance into one vibrant show. GUYS & DOLLS presented by the Arts Club in Vancouver helps us remember what it’s like to take a chance on both life and love. 

Taking place in the mid 20th century, GUYS & DOLLS follows four main characters: Nathan Detroit, Miss Adelaide, Sky Masterson, and Sarah Brown. All possessing very different personalities, the story shows how their lives intertwine in the biggest and smallest of ways. Nathan Detroit, a cheeky and ambitious New York gambler is seen to be desperately searching for a location for his “crap” game (gambling). In order to secure a place, he makes a bet with Sky Masterson, a wealthy gambler. Masterson soon learns that this bet is not an easy one to win as he is required to take straight-cut Missionary Sarah Brown out on a date. At the same time, Detroit and his girlfriend, Miss Adelaine celebrate 14 years together. The pressure for them to get married is high after several years of engagement and the foundation of lies Miss Adelaide has told her mother about the two. As Masterson starts to fall in love with Brown and Detroit starts to get anxious about the future of his “crap” game, the stakes become high and important decisions are made. Featuring classic songs such as  “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” GUYS & DOLLS emphasizes the importance of following your heart and doing the right thing, despite the consequences that may ensue. 

Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!  Image

Photo: Cast of Guys & Dolls, 2024; set design by Scott Penner; costume design by Christine Reimer; lighting design by Gerald King; photo by Moonrider Productions for the Arts Club Theatre Company

GUYS & DOLLS was an excellent choice for the Arts Club’s summer musical as it showcased the quality of theatre that the company was capable of and left nothing up for debate. The musical is directed by Arts Club Artistic Director, Ashlie Corcoran and choreographed by Shelley Stewart Hunt. The show’s scenes and transitions are some of the best I’ve seen so far this year from the Arts Club; one of the smoothest shows to date. The choreography brings up the energy when needed and does not fall flat on the small details. Having a slightly complex plot to follow on paper, the show ends up being fairly easy to follow in person and is quite humorous throughout. Despite taking place at a very different time in society, the theme and lessons are still very relevant in our lives today. The timelessness of the show really adds to its likeability, giving theatre fans more reason to come and see it this summer. 

Sets were designed by Scott Penner with lighting and sound designed by Gerald King and Rick Colhoun respectively. The set was smooth flowing to complement the seamless scene transitions. A stand-out aspect of the musical were the costumes designed by Christime Reimer. Taking us back into old New York, Reimer’s costumes effectively took us back in time when high waisted bottoms, pleats, and formal “going out” hats were all the rave. Separate from the music and acting, the other aspects of GUYS & DOLLS were very effectively put together to create a truly spectacular show to end the 60th anniversary Arts Club season. 

Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!  Image

Photo: Tom Pickett, Sarah Cantuba, Chelsea Rose, Terrence Zhou, and Meghan Anderssen, in Guys & Dolls, 2024; set design by Scott Penner; costume design by Christine Reimer; lighting design by Gerald King; photo by Moonrider Productions for the Arts Club Theatre Company

Chelsea Rose (Sarah Brown) and Jonathan Winsby’s (Sky Masterson) chemistry with one another was undeniably strong. Both being vocally strong, their voices blended together perfectly, while their acting felt very genuine and natural with one another. Being engaged to one another in their personal lives made these roles even more fitting for them in the show. They were the perfect choice to take on the leading roles within the extremely talented cast. 

Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!  Image

Photo: Jonathan Winsby and Chelsea Rose Guys & Dolls, 2024; set design by Scott Penner; costume design by Christine Reimer; lighting design by Gerald King; photo by Moonrider Productions for the Arts Club Theatre Company

There’s no other way to put it either than to say that Madeleine Suddaby is a star. Being such a versatile performer, Suddaby’s audacious persona has proven herself to be one of Vancouver’s most promising performers in the industry. Previously heard as the voice of Audrey II in the Arts Club’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” and seen as Mrs. Wormwood in the Theatre Under The Stars production of Matilda: The Musical the past year, Suddaby is on a roll with her Vancouver theatre roles. She effortlessly steps into any role that she plays and her part as Miss Adelaide in GUYS & DOLLS was hands down one of her best roles to date. Both alongside her stage-husband Josh Epstein as Nathan Detroit and alone, Suddaby shines bright. Her powerhouse vocals keep all the eyes on her, when she’s on stage, and her acting is both humorous and believable. 

Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!  Image

Photo: Cast of Guys & Dolls, 2024; set design by Scott Penner; costume design by Christine Reimer; lighting design by Gerald King; photo by Moonrider Productions for the Arts Club Theatre Company

Tenaj Williams (Nicely-Nicely Johnson/ ensemble) and Josh Epstein (Nathan Detroit) were also great additions to the leading cast. Their charisma from the moment they appeared on stage was apparent. Williams’ voice was exceptional, adding a lot to the energy of the entire production. Epstein has an aura to him that is magnetic. He was the perfect fit to play Nathan Detroit, embodying his sly nature from head to toe. Special mentions go out to Sarah Cantuba (ensemble), Sharon Crandall (General Matilda Cartwright/ Charlie/ ensemble), Jason Sakaki (Rusty Charlie/ ensemble) as well as Tim Howe (Big Jule/ ensemble) for also giving memorable performances. All past Arts Club alumni returning to the stage again; it was a treat to see a cast with familiar faces come together for another standout show. 

Review: GUYS & DOLLS Combines High Stakes and High Notes in a Timeless Musical Masterpiece!  Image

Photo: Madeleine Suddaby and Josh Epstein Guys & Dolls, 2024; set design by Scott Penner; costume design by Christine Reimer; lighting design by Gerald King; photo by Moonrider Productions for the Arts Club Theatre Company

The performance quality throughout GUYS & DOLLS is admirable. The cast gave an overall performance that was sharp and exciting from start to finish, barely taking time to take a breather at times. The vocals were pitch perfect, coming from an Arts Club alumni filled cast that were born to thrive on the Vancouver stage. Being a timeless classic musical on Broadway, the show has also proved itself to become a fan-favorite in Vancouver as well. 

GUYS & DOLLS presented by the Arts Club runs from May 16th to June 30th, 2024 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver, BC. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit the link below! 

Top Photo: Cast of Guys & Dolls, 2024; set design by Scott Penner; costume design by Christine Reimer; lighting design by Gerald King; photo by Moonrider Productions for the Arts Club Theatre Company




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