Saturday, May 16, 2009

Guys and Dolls - Seattle Musical Theatre

Guys and Dolls
Seattle Musical Theatre
May 8 - 24, 2009

Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling's 1951 Broadway hit Guys and Dolls comes back to life once more at Seattle Musical Theatre in Magnuson Park. Winner of five Tonys in 1951 including Best New Musical, Guys and Dolls is the tried and true story of two gamblers in love with the game but falling for the girls and trying to beat the odds every step of the way.

Director, Christopher Nardine, does some admirable work bringing such an ambitious show together for the Seattle audiences. With an extremely effective set involving some tables, chairs and five three-sided, rotating pillars, the show is wonderfully simple. The costumes were even more exciting especially as we enter the underbelly of the New York city scene in Act II.

Though achieving great economy of set and costume, the show does not have a sense of economy of time. Trotting along somewhat laggingly, the performance clocks in at over two and a half hours, much of which is consumed by extensive dance breaks in which some dancers seem to be somewhat lost while others, much more confident, seem to be the tigers let loose among the lambs.

Though on the whole labored, there are some gems in this show. Ben Derby (Benny Southstreet) and Johnathan Reed (Nicely-Nicely) perform with Laurel and Hardy gusto and panache. Their duet, "Guys and Dolls" is the comedic hit of the show and Reed's hilarity and presence is a fantastic constant throughout the performance. His solo late in the second act, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat" is the surprise stand-up-and-dance number. James Oestreich, a graduate of Seattle Pacific University, stands out from the ensemble throughout the show, with special emphasis on his cabana-boy routine in "Havana."

Guys and Dolls at Seattle Musical Theatre concludes their 2008-2009 season, but stay tuned for their upcoming 2009-2010 season including Producers, HONK!, Company, and 110 in the Shade.

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