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Guys and Dolls
rector John Rubinstein's production of the Frank Loesser/Jo Swerling/Abe Burrows classic musical has two advantages over most renditions of the show: an extremely talented acting ensemble, and Rubinstein's own nuanced eye for character and atmosphere. The result is a refreshing, even hip, saunter down Damon Runyon's Broadway. Beginning with a marvelous opening street sequence, Rubinstein makes it clear we're not in musical comedy land but rather in the very slick and seedy capital of the con, New York City. Terrific costumes by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg and set by Curt Beech add spice to the scene and underscore the wink of irony that floats throughout the show. Rubinstein has put together a solid cast. Michael Manuel plays a robust and charismatic Sky Masterson, who shares lots of chemistry with the gifted Susan Hull in the role of Sarah Brown. James Gleason is a wily and winning Nathan Detroit, and Leslie Hicks (alternating in the role with Jane Lanier) is right on the button as Miss Adelaide. The standout featured performances are by David Holladay, who winks, prevaricates, and then brings down the house as Nicely-Nicely, and Sandy Kenyon, who is inspired and moving as Arvide Abernathy. Other fine performances include those of Carole Goldman as the misplaced Hot Box girl, Gregory White as Lieutenant Brannigan and Dave Florek as Big Julie. Setting this production apart from the run-of-the mill Guys and Dolls is the character work that each of the actors--from those in leads to those playing smaller roles--has done under the guidance of Rubinstein. All too often the characters in this show are overplayed or flattened by familiarity. For the most part, this acting ensemble restores much of the detail, and the life, to these very well-trodden roles. While the voices here may sometimes not be quite as smooth or sweet as some of those in the more traditional world of musical comedy, this ensemble (under the brisk and textured music direction of Brad Ellis) has delivered an entertaining, lively sho
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