Jul 23, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Lady Luck is with this sensational ‘Guys and Dolls’ with exuberant street action, sultry big band music and soaring romance. Director Jenny Boynton has a keen eye for detail, adding subtle background touches and turning the chaotic street scenes into an orchestra of vibrant personalities. The attention to detail in this staging demonstrates that a small theater used well can become a dynamic production.
Set in a generic “film noir” New York with vintage-inspired rotating backdrops by Tim Ryan, the story delves into a shifty landscape of gamblers and gangsters clawing for the next big score. Despite violent undertones, the mood is remarkably light-hearted. Due to a foolish bet, slick Sky Masterson finds himself asking the primSave-a-Soul Mission sergeant, Sarah Brown, on a date. Their amusing courtship is paralleled by Nathan Detroit and Adelaide, who have been engaged for years with no sign of wedding bells.
Lily Jackson’s straight-laced Sarah reveals glimpses of an artistic soul, with exquisite proficiency in the high register required by her role. Melodious tones from Eric Levintow reflect an amiable, relaxed interpretation of Sky as a man who has become indifferent to the world.
Tootling through the Hot Box club in garish tulle and lace, Deborah Spake’s Miss Adelaide is appropriately melodramatic, with amusing expressions and a flamboyant accent. Nelson Brown’s Nathan is torn between genuinely aspiring to be the man she deserves and the reality of keeping his potentially lucrative game from being discovered by the authorities. He shifts back and forth, mixed emotions driving his decisions, which Brown is able to clearly manifest.
Music director Jake Gale leads a dapper band whose rhythmic stylings during the bar fight in Havana showcase their skills along with Zoe Swenson-Graham, who choreographed the inebriated conflict. A strong supporting cast, such as Tim Ryan (Nicely Nicely Johnson) with food gags and an energetic “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” round out the production, which has gender-blind casting in several key roles. Marilyn Izdebski’s lighting design bathes “The Crapshooter’s Dance” in rich shadows, and keeps transitions smooth.
Brush off your fedora for this superb ‘Guys and Dolls’ in San Anselmo, with an accomplished cast and outstanding direction by Boynton.
Presented by Marin Musical Theatre Company through July 28, 2018
Thu/Fri at 8:00pm, Sat at 2:00pm
Marin Musical Theatre Company
Photos by Katie Wickes
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