GUYS AND DOLLS at Bridge Players: A Musical Fable That’s a Dream Come True

by Arlene Price Kohler

Julia Lonchar, Kevin Doyle, Alexandra Haas, Stevie Neale, Shelby Tibbets, Francis Pedersen, Maureen Broadbent, Robert Davidson, Gabrielle Affleck, James Freund, Evan Vincent, Gina Petti, Butch Berger, Zachary Treusch in a scene from GUYS AND DOLLS.

GUYS AND DOLLS is a musical fable of Broadway based in part on a short story ‘The Idylls of Sarah Brown” and other characters of Damon Runyon.  The music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser.  The book is by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It was first produced on Broadway in 1950 with Robert Alda as Sky, Isabelle Bigley as Sarah, Vivian Blaine as Adelaide and Stubby Kaye as Nicely-Nicely. It won a Tony for best musical and had a long successful run.  A later motion picture version starred Marlon Brando as Sky,  Frank Sinatra as Nathan, Jean Simmons as Sarah and Vivian Blaine as Adelaide.

Bridge Players Theatre Company, under the direction of Tim Sagges, is presenting this production at the Broad Street Methodist Church 36 E Broad Street in  Burlington N. J. Sagges states in his notes how his life has always revolved around music and how he first became enthralled with the harmonies in “Oldest Established”.  I have seen this show many times but have never enjoyed the music as much as tonight.  I think that Sagges’ love of this show and of its music has taken it to another level.  Overall, this is a wonderful production, with lots of talented performances, good staging and wonderful music and singing.

Sagges opens the show with a clever little speech and off we go: the overture starts and to my delight, the music is superb. WOW!  One of the best orchestras I have heard in a long time (love the piano).  Kudos to Musical Director, Diana Dohrmann.  I loved almost every one of the musical numbers. A few stand outs were Adelaide’s Lament,  Luck be a Lady,  Sue Me and the extra-terrific Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.  I don’t usually tap my feet but opening night they were barely idle.  The scene changes (often one of my pet peeves) are handled quickly with ease, and in some very novel ways, like the cigarette girl. It is so important to keep the action flowing.  Great choreography, thanks to Lisa Croce, especially in The Oldest Established and Crapshooters’ Dance.  The cuban dancers were fabulous as well as the hotbox girls.

As to performances:  Stevie Neale as Sarah Brown possesses a lovely voice which fits her character nicely.

Francis Pedersen (Nathan Detroit) and Gabrielle Affleck (Miss Adelaide).

Francis Pedersen (Nathan Detroit) and Gabrielle Affleck (Miss Adelaide).

Sky Masterson, played by Kevin Doyle, is a bit of great casting. Good looks, good acting, nice vocals with great delivery.  During the break I overheard a woman say she felt like he was singing to her, referring to I’ll Know the duet he sings with Sarah. I agree, great connection with the audience.

Butch Berger’s Nicely-Nicely was very-very nicely done; liked the walk, liked the talk and loved, loved, loved Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.  Berger has great command of the stage.  The audience loved him as well.

Nathan Detroit played by Fran Petersen and Miss Adelaide played by Gabrielle Affleck seem oddly paired at first,  but his strong performance and her incredibly great performance have you believing them as a couple in a very short time.  And the doll can really sing!  They are especially strong together in Sue Me, not an easy number to do.  I have seen Affleck on stage before as Mama Rose; she impressed me then, as well as tonight. I enjoyed her “Lament“.

Lisa Croce as Big Jule, (a terrific bit of casting), gave very entertaining performance.  Bob Davidson as Arvide Abernathy does an admirable job of acting and I enjoyed hearing him sing  ‘More I Cannot Wish You’.

Alexandra Haas as General Cartwright in Rockin’ the Boat was rockin’ good. I wish there had been pictures with the “Who’s Who” as there were ensemble players I would have liked to recognize (especially among the dancers).

The costuming was well done overall,  especially for A Bushel and a Peck, the Guys and dancers in the Crapshooters’ Dance.

Sagges has done a wonderful job. I am glad he got to realize one of his dreams by bringing this show to the Bridge Players’ stage.

Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
January 31- February 16, 2014
Bridge Players Theatre Company
at The Broad Street United Methodist Church
36 East Broad Street
Burlington, NJ
(856) 303-7620





You may also like

Leave a Reply