Review: ‘Guys and Dolls’ at Fairfax High School

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Fairfax High School Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls had the audience roaring with laughter. Set in 1930’s New York, the show was based on short stories by Damon Runyon about the gangsters and gamblers of the city’s underworld. The musical opens with a pantomime set to an orchestral piece, depicting daily life in the city—complete with gamblers, pretty women, and, of course, the Save-A-Soul Mission’s marching band.

Cast members perform the ‘Crapshooters Dance’ in front of Thomas Iodice’s set design. Photo by Kim Klain.

Tori Garcia plays Sarah Brown, the driving force behind the Mission’s goal to rescue sinners. Garcia potrays Sarah with great earnestness, both as the pious missionary and as a woman whose eyes are opened to new experiences. Her duet with Sky Masterson (Zion Jang), the gambler with the heart of gold, was beautiful with her bell-like soprano. Jang has a baritone that lends itself well to songs such as “Luck Be a Lady,” later popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Emily Dillard [Adelaide] and Hayden Giles [Nathan Detroit] take center stage with the rest of the ensemble in Fairfax High School’s production of Guys and Dolls. Photo by Kim Klain.
Hayden Giles swaggers on stage as Nathan Detroit, the gambler who just can’t seem to commit to Miss Adelaide (Emily Dillard), his fiancée of 14 years. Dillard brings out Adelaide’s bubbly side, in addition to her brash comedic side in “Adelaide’s Lament” or “Take Back your Mink.” The two lovers share some humorous back and forth in songs like “Sue Me”—seemingly close to getting somewhere, but being foiled again by Nathan’s love of running an illegal crap game. Attempting to pay for a location in which to hold his game, he tricks his old friend Sky Masterson into a bet that he can take Sarah Brown to dinner in Havana, setting in motion a series of comical mishaps…and, of course, a romantic chase.

The cast is rounded out with Benny Southstreet, Rusty Charlie, and Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Kyle Huott, Michael Sulpizio, and Densmore Bartly), always happy to make things worse, and Big Jule (Eddie Zakreski), the big-time Chicago gangster who lands Nathan in hot water.

Director Erich DiCenzo, and Choreographers Sophia Poteet and Michael Sulpizio, have created some dynamic dance numbers, most notably the bar brawl in Havana, and later “The Crapshooter’s Dance,” a sequence made all the more compelling thanks to Set Designer Thomas Iodice’s backdrop of a sewer system. The set even features a slide that takes Sky and Nicely-Nicely into the underworld of New York’s underworld. Aided by lighting design by Jonathan Pepin, music direction by Kirsten Boyd, sound by Sara Young, and colorful costumes by Neva Sedlak, the show has plenty of entertainment to go around.

DJ Bartly takes center stage in “Sit Down You’re Rockin the Boat.” Photo by Kim Klain.

Guys andn Dolls runs a little on the long side, but these high school students do a great job bringing energy and life into this 1950’s creation.

Fairfax High School’s entertaining Guys and Dolls is a delighful production.

Running Time: Two hours and 45 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Guys and Dolls plays through May 13, 2017, at Fairfax High School Theatre – 3501 Rebel Run, in  Fairfax, VA. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online.

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Julia Hurley
Julia Hurley is an aspiring director, actress, playwright, and theater artist who recently graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Drama. Her directing work at UVA included Christopher Durang’s ‘dentity Crisis and a staged version of Mike Bartlett’s radio play Not Talking, which deals with the issue of rape in the military. Other directing work includes a staged reading of Nina Raine’s Tribes, which features the use of sign language, as well as a site-specific production of Caleb and Rita by Jessica Moss for Offstage Theatre’s Barhoppers Series. More recently, she has worked as an assistant director and projections designer for the Telluride Playwrights Festival’s production of The Hispanic Women’s Project. She made her D.C. theater debut in August 2016 as the lead in 4615 Theatre Company’s production of Aliens With Extraordinary Skills.