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Home | Front Page News | MSMT's Guys and Dolls Is No Roll of the Dice...it is The Real Deal!

MSMT's Guys and Dolls Is No Roll of the Dice...it is The Real Deal!

MSMT's Guys and Dolls Is No Roll of the Dice...it is The Real Deal!

Review by Charles Crosby Photos by Roger S. Duncan Photos by Roger S. Duncan Following Maine State Music Theatre's (MSMT) best selling opening season show, Always...Patsy Cline, is Frank Loesser's celebrated musical comedy about rolling the dice and falling in love, Guys and Dolls. This iconic musical was the second show produced by MSMT's founder, Victoria Crandall in 1959 and is the fifth time it is performed on the Pickard Theatre stage, most recently in 2001. Director/Choreographer D.J. Salisbury who is making his MSMT debut with this production has done a wonderful job with Guys and Dolls. There is a lot happening since there is song, dance, sets, all the production elements and of course the timing! He has certainly hit a grand slam with his first production here. He has a wealth of experience from his directing and choreography for many theaters nationwide and television shows and is also a writer/lyricist. MSMT must feel lucky to have him for this show.

Guys and Dolls is set in New York City and follows the life of gambler, Nathan Detroit (played by James Beaman a Massachusetts native making his MSMT debut), as he tries to come up with the cash to find a place to hold a craps game while the authorities are making it tough. His girlfriend, Adelaide (played by none other than Charis Leos), laments throughout the show that they have been engaged for 14 years and it is time to get married. She has told her mother in Rhode Island that they have been married for 12 years and have 4 children with one on the way.  Detroit turns to fellow gambler and man about town, Sky (Obadiah) Masterson (played by Maine native Stephen Mark Lukas who is making his MSMT debut), for the money and they place a bet on the $1,000 he needs if he can get a straight-laced missionary woman, Sarah Brown (Kristen Hahn making her MSMT debut) to fly with him to Havana, Cuba. The plot and scenes change quickly and this is considered by many the perfect musical comedy and well worth seeing a MSMT. 
 
The chemistry between the main characters is noteworthy from the beginning.  Beaman (Nathan Detroit) and Leos (Adalaide) are great and banter back and forth like an old married couple and are thoroughly believable from the moment they get on stage.  It is magical to see and I am not surprised by Leos' outstanding performance since she has so much experience as a comedic actress. Even though I have seen this musical before, I found myself laughing out loud many times at some new funny lines I do not remember being there in previous performances. Beaman and Leos are great singing "Sue Me" in Act 2, Scene 4. Leos is also excellent leading The Hot Box ladies and stand out performances were "A Bushel and  Peck" in Act 1 and "Take Back Your Mink" in Act 2. Another chemical romance is the obvious tension and amazing on stage interactions between two unlikely lovers, Lukas (Sky Masterson) and Hahn (Sarah Brown). The MSMT newcomers are perfectly cast in their roles and kudos to the MSMT Managing Director Stephanie Dupal and Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark and their team for finding these great performers. I remember the songs from seeing the show before but I was not as thoroughly entertained and Hahn's vocals are off the charts. Her operatic training is apparent and is a vocal powerhouse.  Lukas is no slouch in the vocal department and they sing beautifully together. 
 
Nathan's gang of fellow gamblers are Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Steve Gagliastro), Benny Southstreet (Brad Bradley making his MSMT debut) and Rusty Charlie (Raymond Mark Dumont).  This trio are funny and play off each other well.  Gagliastro and Dumont are no strangers to MSMT audiences having appeared on stage in various productions over the years. Gagiastro last appeared in The Buddy Holly Story three years ago. Dumont is the 2017 Intern Director and is also Director/Choreographer  of The Taffetas and Alice in Wonderland and Choreographer for The Who's Tommy this season. He has appeared in 38 shows her since 1993. I am a big fan of Dumont and his ability to interpret choreography and tap dancing prowess along with Bradley in a noteworthy performance while singing "Guys and Dolls" on a street off Broadway in Act 1.  These three talented actors can really sing and Johnson is also a standout with his trombone solo in Act 1 and fantastic performance in 
"Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" with the ensemble at the Save-A-Soul Mission in Act 2. 
 
Brian Cimmet who leads the talented orchestra is not only playing piano, but is also the conductor and does an incredible job. I have attended musicals since the mid 1970's and rarely does the balance between the orchestra and vocalists sound perfect - but it did this time - and for the entire show on opening night - a rarity indeed.  I could not identify any times that one over powered the other and I thoroughly enjoyed it - kudos also go out to sound designer Shannon Slaton who did a masterful job with the mix. Joining Cimmet in the pit are Patrick Fanning (Keyboard and Assistant Music Director), Ray Libby (Reeds), Sean Potter (Reeds), Charlie Stancampiano (Reeds), Ryan LePage (Trumpets), Les Rogers (Trumpets), Curtis Reynolds (Trombone and Assistant to the Assistant Music Director), and Aaron Drescher (Drums). 
 
The dancing in this show is what really rounds out the experience and in Act 1, scene 8 set at Cathedral Square in Havana, Cuba the audience really gets a glimpse of the talented cast assembled here.  The dancing continues throughout the show and another highlight for me was The Crapshooters' Dance in The Sewer in Act 2, Scene 3 featuring the ensemble and then a memorable performance by Lukas and Crapshooters with the song "Luck Be a Lady"
 
The cast is rounded out by Glenn Anderson (Arvide Abernathy), Danny Rutiglianon - (MSMT Debut as Big Jule), Cathy Newman (MSMT Debut as General Cartwright), Lilly Tobin (MSMT Debut as Mimi/Hot Box Girl), Aleka Emerson (Agatha/Hot Box Girl), Samantha Schiffman (Martha/Hot Box Girl), Joe Gately (MSMT Debut as Lt. Brannigan), Danny Arnold (MSMT Debut as Harry the Horse/Joey Biltmore), and John Edmonds (Angie the Ox). Other guys in the ensemble on stage throughout the show are: Mike Baskowski (MSMT Debut), Ronnie Bowman, Jr (MSMT Debut). Michael Carrier (MSMT Performance Intern), Glenn Davis (MSMT Debut), Zach Eisenberg (MSMT Debut), Kyle Laing, Brian Liebson (MSMT Debut), Kevin Murakami (MSMT Performance Intern) (MSMT Performance Intern), John Pletka (MSMT Performance Intern), Matty Rickard (Dance Captain), Mickey White (MSMT Performance Intern) and Cameron Wright. Other girls in the ensemble include: Natalie Bellamy (MSMT Performance Intern), Rebecca René Kelley (MSMT Performance Intern), Gerianne Pérez (MSMT Debut), Sara Sargent (MSMT Performance Intern) and Tracy Sokat (MSMT Performance Intern).  
 
It is great to see Glenn Anderson on the MSMT stage again for his 24th consecutive season and he does a wonderful job singing "More I Cannot Wish For" in a tender moment with Sarah in Act 2, Scene 2.  
 
Charles S. Kading (Production Manager), Robert Andrew Kovach (Scenic Designer), Annmarie Duggan (Lighting Designer), Shannon Slaton (Sound Designer), Jacob Mishler (Effects Designer), Ryan J. Moller (Costume Designer), Gerard James Kelly (Wig Designer), Katelin Walsko (Props Designer), Mark Johnson (Production Stage Manager) and Amy M. Bertacini (Assistant Stage Manager) clearly worked together well to bring one of the best produced shows I have seen in a long time. Moller and his team deserve special mention for the costume design and production for Guys and Dolls. They looked great on stage and the sheer volume of work here, coupled with multiple quick costume changes makes this a real standout in my book.   
 
"Guys and Dolls" will run through July 15 at the Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College Campus in Brunswick. Call the box office for tickets today at (207) 725-8769 for single tickets. For more information, go to www.msmt.org.  If  you don't already have season tickets make sure to get your tickets for the rest of the shows because they are all selling fast. 
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