Niagara Gazette

June 6, 2013

Bet on 'Guys & Dolls' this festival season

Night & Day

Night & Day — NIAGARA ON THE LAKE, Ont. — For sure-fire returns, bet the Shaw Festival’s “Guys & Dolls” across the board. The hard-charging Frank Loesser musical out of Damon Runyan by Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara” has both the power and the pedigree.

WIN — Whichever steed finishes first in Saturday’s Belmont will have to sprint the full mile-and-a-half to equal the pace of “Guys & Dolls,” which explodes out of the starting gate and never falters, even for underdog numbers as the Havana dance and the old Salvationist’s plaintive “More I Can Not Wish You” as sung by Peter Millard.

PLACE — While the characters come out of the Roaring ‘20s, Director Tad Bradecki sets them firmly in the ‘50s, allowing for Art Deco settings and flowery costumes in which the women stand out vividly against an artful black-and-white set.

SHOW — The setup for Havana, palm trees by lunar light, seems a bit corny even for this, until the silhouette of a vintage airliner transits the moon, and back, a breathtaking detail.

EXACTA — Jenny L. Wright and Shawn Wright (no relation, other than professional) have just the stuff that’s needed for a winning Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit, he desperately seeking authority, she a commitment, as in “I’ve been in all the other rooms in the house, why not the kitchen?”

TRIFECTA — Paul Revere, Valentine and Epitaph, the three entries in “G&D’s” definitive “I Got the Horse Right Here,” (officially: “Fugue for Tinhorns”), as sung by Thom Allison, Billy Lake and Kelly Wong, leading up, then, to “Oldest Established,” at full horsepower, eight voices in volume and harmonies that would give the vapors to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

FOR RAILBIRDS — If by any chance this is not your first rodeo, “Guys & Dolls” defines the culture clash between Manhattan wise guys and the women of the mission who would save their souls, led, with deliciously wobbly reluctance, by Elodie Giollett as Sarah Brown. The field’s only also-ran is Kyle Blair, who gives big-timer Sky Masterson rather the look and sound of a somewhat animated Ken doll.

AND THEY’RE OFF — Early returns persuaded the Shaw to lengthen the course through Nov. 3. There’s no $2 window but many Sunday evening markdowns.

Doug Smith has been reviewing theater on the Niagara Frontier since 1968.