It’s a bit late in the run to be doing a review of Upstairs at the Gatehouse’s Guys and Dolls as the show’s been open for a month and is pretty much sold out for the rest of its run. However, I was fortunate enough to get tickets (before Christmas) to last Friday’s performance, thanks to a hot tip from Ought To Be Clown’s Twitter feed (basically, “Amazeballs”). (And they’ve added a Saturday January 28th matinee so maybe you can get in on that.)
ALERT! ALERT! This show has been extended and is now running: Tuesday 31st January through Friday 3rd February with four 7.30pm shows! Don’t miss it!
We’re off to a good start with the fabulous Frank Loesser score, full of hummable tunes (“Luck Be a Lady,” “Guys and Dolls,” “A Bushel and a Peck”) and songs with hilarious lyrics (“Rocking the Boat,” “Adelaide’s Lament”). The set is minimal but extremely flexible – with a newspaper stand, it’s a city street; add some tables with candles on them, and you’ve got Adele’s club; a few colorful lampshades and suddenly we’re in Cuba. I had no problem completely suspending disbelief as the cast carefully pushed walls around and dropped burning objects into their pockets – and at one point handed out hats to the audience so we could fill out Jet’s “marker” for 12 sinners (when only 6 cast members were available).
So what it comes down to is talent, and the Gatehouse did a damned good job with a Jet (Jamie Sampson) who completely surpassed Brando with his sexiness and smooth voice. Thanks to him, I enjoyed this production far more than the film (all I’d ever seen before), because instead of watching Brando be Brando (and Sinatra be Sinatra), instead I got actors who were trying to be their characters. Rebecca Sutherland as Adele definitely had the feeling of a shop-worn girlfriend (and was a big presence on stage), but was unfortunately her level was not matched by Amy Bailey (as missionary Sarah Brown). Sarah isn’t as fun as a role, given that she’s a bit of a prig, but she has a chance to shine through her singing – and Bailey just didn’t have the pipes to do the songs justice. She managed to do enough for the small theater, but with such strong people beside her, she looked weak.
But this is an ensemble piece, and boy! With the dancing and singing, these gangsters sure did shine! They flew through the air, they spun, they blew my mind in the crap game sequence, they proved to me once again that there is NOTHING like seeing a fantastic show with the cast practically in your lap, especially with the energetic choreography this show had. I was left making small complaints about Adele’s fellow Hotboxers having period inappropriate short shorts on. And, really, that just wasn’t too horrible as the legs they revealed were very toned.
So even though I can’t add much to the shouts of approval in the blogosphere for Guys and Dolls, I had to say, for those of you who CAN fit it in … it’s a damned good night out and well worth the ticket cost.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, January 6th, 2012. The show continues through … why look, longer than it was when I started writing this review … February 3rd!)