This summer is full of big blockbuster musicals by countless of theaters in the Twin Cities and Lyric Arts has joined that list last weekend. The forever popular Guys & Dolls opened on the Main Street Stage and is running for multiple weeks. This musical has been produced many times on both Broadway and in regional theaters on account that it's been around since 1950. It has countless of Tony award nominations and wins including performances by many familiar faces to the Great White Way including Nathan Lane, Peter Gallagher, Jane Krakowski, Ewan McGregor and Megan Mullally.
Guys & Dolls is specifically about two guys and two dolls. Nathan Detroit has set up “The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York” however he needs $1000 to lock in the location. Miss Adelaide, a night club singer, has been dating Nathan for almost fourteen years and is ready to kick him to the curb if he doesn’t commit soon. While those two quarrel, Sarah Brown is a missionary on a mission to guide sinners to a path of good and while she becomes the main subject of a bet with Sky Masterson who must successfully take her to Havana on a date. The bet slowly becomes real as Masterson falls for Brown.
This is a show we’ve seen, time and time again. Not only a story of love but the actual show of Guys & Dolls. How can this theater take a tale that’s old and dated feel fresh and new? The stellar casting. That’s how. This cast is divine and especially the four leading performers. Each and every one of them brings a breath of fresh air to roles that could normally be seen as old and tiring. Quinn Shadko, who plays Sarah Brown, has a soaring soprano voice in numbers like I’ll Know and has perfected the stuck up missionary role while also managing to get a roar of laughter in her drunken stupor in Havana with Sky. Rodolfo Nieto, who I recently saw in Daleko’s production of She Loves Me, plays Sky Masterson and he was born for this role. His deep and lovely baritone voice echos through the theater and it so lush that you can’t help but melt a bit in your seat. Nieto’s acting is also sinfully charming and I stand by what I said about him before…someone please cast him in a production of Sweeney Todd cause this guy’s got it!
Jonathan Goodman plays Nathan Detroit and brings a new energy to the role that I’ve never seen before. With more of a frantic sense of comedy his comedic banter with majority of the cast members and Kate Beahen, who plays Miss. Adelaide, is hilarious. Beahen is one of the most talented performers in the Twin Cities. Her ability to completely transform to any character is mesmerizing. I also appreciated the fact that she sped up the tempo a bit on two of her songs (A Bushel and a Peck and Take Back Your Mink) which makes it feel even more new. After the show, my mother whispered to me “I’d see anything Kate’s in. If she’s on the cast list, I’m there” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s perfect timing too as Beahen will be starring in the regional premiere and Lyric Art’s season opener, If/Then in September.
The ensemble does well in a variety of songs whether they are alone or providing extra vocals for one of the leads. They dance wonderfully with choreography provided by Lauri Kraft. Kraft’s choreography is great in numbers like the Crapshooters Ballet however the lack of verbal from the ensemble felt awkward to me. The orchestra sounds fabulous, even when they are being piped in from another room in the theater and is being led by Natalie McComas.
“I’d see anything Kate’s in. If she’s on the cast list, I’m there” - My mother and myself
The set is designed by Eli Sherlock and features three large panels that have the New York skyline cut out, each getting smaller as they move up stage. This specific aspect of the design helped the intimate stage feel deeper and larger but other than that it felt lackluster to me. I wanted more from it. The edges of all three panels did light up during various numbers. Shout out again to Beahen for timing her blocking perfectly with various music cues and lighting cues. While the lights attached to these panels, by Lighting Designer Kurt Jung and Asst. Lighting Designer Tyler Biggerstaff, added a variety of pops of color, I felt they were inconsistent and I couldn't find the pattern of why they chose those colors for that particular scene.
Guys & Dolls is an entertaining and charming show. Director Matt McNabb knows this space well after directing multiple big blockbuster musicals on this stage. The staging works with the set and is complimented by the supurp cast he's put together. The set left me wanting more but the performances is what I really adored. It's the perfect show to see this summer if you're looking for an evening out of the city. However act fast, their availability for shows is already limited for various nights.
Guys & Dolls runs at Lyric Arts through August 5. Some performances have been taken offline due to limited availability so be sure to call the box office to secure your tickets.
Lyric Arts also snagged the number one spot in my list of top 10 most anticipated shows for the 2018-2019 season. Click the button below to see which one it was!