The conversation went something like:
“Guys and Dolls? Really? Didn’t the high school just put that on last year?”
“Yeah, well, your mom is in town; she’d like to see it. It’ll be a nice time…”
“Alright, I’ll go. But seriously, Mark Hamill had better make an appearance!”
[Fade to black]
I admit that I was pretty skeptical that the Guthrie’s production of Guys and Dolls was going to be much more than a big-budget repackaging of the musical workhorse that community theater companies trot out between runnings of South Pacific, Music Man, and Showboat. To a certain extent, it is just that, but in a good way. The hugely talented and diverse cast delivers a high-energy show with spirited dancing, singing, and winking smiles. The crowd ate it up! Who could blame them; it was a darn good time.
This is a show that has been around for nearly 70 years, and director Kent Gash tweaked a few things around the edges, but left the majority of the story as it was originally told. If there’s anyone left who doesn’t know the story, it’s a romantic comedy based in old New York. There’s gamblers, showgirls, and rigid, uptight moral crusaders who all end up saving each other in the end, to everyone’s chagrin. If it was ever edgy, it’s been sanded and sanitized to the point of archetype: perfect for high schools in the suburbs with nervous PTAs.
But no one going to Guys and Dolls is going because they want to be challenged with a groundbreaking artistic vision (that’s what Metamorphosis was for). People looking for a night of singing, dancing, and some gorgeous dancers will, however, be delighted. I admit that I was skeptical of the endeavor through the first act, as none of the songs really hooked me, even if the dancing was spectacular. The second act really turns up the heat, though, with classics like “Luck Be a Lady” and the literally showstopping “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat!” making it hard to stay jaded.
With the Fourth of July weekend right around the corner, this is the perfect time to turn off Twitter, bring your parents and have something to talk about while waiting for the fireworks to start.