St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Guys and DollsBy Cappies • Mar 3rd, 2011 • Category: Cappies
Full of high-spirited characters and songs, the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s production of Guys and Dolls overflowed with charm. Within minutes of the orchestra playing the Overture, the audience had been introduced to the distinct personality of each character.
Guys and Dolls was created with the collaboration of the music and lyrics of Frank Loesser and writing of Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, premiering on Broadway in 1950. It tells of two couples and how their fates are gambled away. Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit struggle to keep their relationship intact after a fourteen-year engagement and no wedding. Adelaide suffers from a terminal cold, presumably due to the stagnancy of their relationship, while Nathan covertly organizes craps games, sidestepping the edict against gambling during the early 1950s. Meanwhile, Sky Masterson, another risk taking gambler, woos Sarah Brown, a missionary leader on a bet and finds himself falling in love against his will.
Paralleling the romantic interludes, there was an unmistakable tension between the unruly gangsters looking for a hideout where they could gamble and the policeman who made it a habit to literally breathe down their necks. These gamblers pranced around in spiffy suits, spewing Manhattan accents as convincingly as if they had actually been pulled off the streets of the Big Apple. Rambunctious tangoing led to a savage fight involving a bottle being cracked over a participant’s head. From smirks and sarcasm to touching moments of tender confessions of love, the impassioned atmosphere of this production was palpable.
Hilarity was introduced to the performance by means of snarky banter between Sky and Sarah. Sky Masterson, played by Ben Mitchell, had a smooth and suave attitude. His tough determination to win a bet followed by his transformation into a vulnerable romantic, was as touching as his voice in “Luck Be a Lady” was swoon-worthy. In short, Sky was every bit the amorous, charming Guy one would expect to be able to entice the Doll. Sarah Brown, played by Astrea Somarriba, was convincing in showing her initial resistance to Sky’s attempts to persuade her to go out with him. Her growing affection for Sky was transparent in her exemplary transition to relenting.
Meanwhile, the dynamic relationship between Adelaide and Nathan added another dimension to the continually satisfying entertainment. Marta Knudson, as Miss Adelaide, took the flamboyant role and enthusiastically threw herself into it. She retained the stridency of her character voice while singing gustily, never breaking character while, impressively, simultaneously dancing. This was a purposeful, strong-minded show girl who was clearly resolute in her decision to marry Nathan.
Also, Nathan Detroit, played by the magnetic Robert Schepis, imbued his lines with sincere substance. His earnest pleas to Adelaide for forgiveness and witty, uproarious jokes were fiery. Other actors deserve recognition too for their interpretations of their characters. Nicely Johnson, played by Drew Looney, sang a superb rendition of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” and Harry the Horse, played by Alex Palmer, not only delivered his lines strikingly, but on occasion, creatively ad-libbed lines that were priceless.
The stage itself was appealingly simple, accented with minimalist creative props such as a luminous street light and sparkling street signs. The spotlights framed the actors in such a way as to create two shadows, an enchanting effect. In addition, the orchestra made up for its diminutive size with strong sound and pure talent.
Without a doubt, this show was thrilling. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s Guys and Dolls truly gave new meaning to the rolling of a dice.
by Olivia Meyer of Oakton High School
Photos by Bruce Weber.
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