The dice are rolling, the men are kicking face, and the audience is rolling in the aisles as Olney Theatre Center’s last show of the season, Guys and Dolls, opens this weekend. One of Frank Loesser’s best known works, this production of the classic musical is one that everyone needs to run to see.
Set in 1920s New York, Guys and Dolls tells the stories of sergeants, sinners, and singers as they live and love. One couple, Nathan Detroit (Paul Binotto) and Miss Adelaide (Lauren Weinberg) has been engaged for 14 years with no altar in sight as Detroit is too focused on getting money to run his floating crap game. When he bets fellow gambler Sky Masterson (Matt Faucher) that he cannot take mission “doll” Sarah Brown (Jessica Lauren Ball) to Havana, both love and hilarity ensue.
Directed by Jerry Whiddon with incredible finesse, the cast of 20 breathes life into this over 60 year-old work. Each performer has great standout moments: Tobias Young’s show-stopping and roof-raising “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat,” Lauren Weinberg’s hilarious “Adelaide’s Lament” and “Take Back Your Mink,” and Matt Faucher and Jessica Lauren Ball’s gorgeous harmonies in “I’ll Know” and “My Time of Day/”I’ve Never Been in Love Before.”
Whether it performing Michael Bobbitt’s stunning choreography or belting out entrancing harmonies accompanied by Music Director Timothy Splain’s outstanding onstage band, each member of the cast comes together to present a thoroughly engrossing show.
The four leads should be commended for their incredibly human portrayals of characters that borderline on caricature. Weinberg’s turn as Miss Adelaide manages to be both spunky and sweet with a nasal tone that never comes off as overly obnoxious. Ball also adds a little sass to the traditional ingénue role of Sarah Brown, preventing her from being too cookie-cutter. Binotto and Faucher balance their masculinity and love for their ladies perfectly throughout the play.
The designers also deserve a rousing round of applause for completing the visual picture. The two-level set by Dan Conway in beautiful red and light grays is just enough to complement and not overwhelm. Costumes by Rosemary Pardee show off the svelte legs of the ladies and the masculine figures of the men. The lighting by Colin K. Bills and the soundscape by Jeffrey Dorfman add to the high energy of the piece in an irreplaceable way. Finally, Ben Cunis’ fight choreography should be considered as one of the best physical moments on the DC stage in recent months.
For those of you who think you know Guys and Dolls, Olney Theatre Center has given us a production of this classic musical for the modern era.
I’d bet a roll of the dice that if you don’t buy your guy or doll some tickets now – you may not be able to get some because this run is going to sell out fast!
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.