Guys and Dolls

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Maybe the Hale Centre Theatre will use this quote in their advertising:

It’s no gamble: Hale Centre Theatre’s “Guys and Dolls” is a sure thing!

One of the more delightful and non-sexist musical comedies to come out of the 1950s, “Guys and Dolls” follows two couples on the rocky road to love.

Nathan Detroit (David Glaittli) runs an itinerant craps game in New York and has been engaged to nightclub dancer Miss Adelaide (Sharon Lynn Kenison) for 14 years. Adelaide, in fact, has developed a psychosomatic cold from fretting over her commitment-phobic Nathan.

Meanwhile, big-shot gambler Sky Masterson (Jack Kenison) rolls into town and makes a bet that he can take any girl Nathan names to Havana with him. Nathan names Sarah Brown (Alisa Harris), a local volunteer missionary saddled with the impossible task of reforming the sinners and gamblers of Broadway.

But Sky not only gets her to Havana; he starts to fall for her, too. Mixed with all this is Nathan’s desire to get a big craps game going, if only he can find a location.

Directed by Bruce Bredeson, this production smoothly handles the show’s two couples, allowing Sky and Sarah to be the more serious pair, but not leaving Nathan and Adelaide too far behind. This task is enabled by a stand-out performance from Sharon Lynn Kenison as Adelaide. With her chirpy voice and bird-like appearance, Kenison delivers everything perfectly. She is, deservedly, a crowd favorite.

The performances are good all around, in fact; it’s one of the stronger ensembles we’ve seen lately. From Nicely-Nicely (Mark Daniels) and Benny’s (Darin Stites) contraction-free patter to Big Jule’s (Glen Carpenter) vaguely foreign accent, the dialects are good, and the singing voices are all top-notch.

Amy Glaser’s colorful costumes are great, too: Nathan’s purple suit is outrageous enough to make the audience whisper when he first enters (not that it’s hard to make audiences talk during a show in Utah).

Marilyn May Montgomery’s choreography leads to some outstanding dance numbers, including an energetic gambling scene and Adelaide’s nightclub numbers. It’s a bit over-done at times — I would argue that there’s no reason for the singers of the opening “Fugue for Tinhorns” to be dancing around when they’re just talking about the horse races — but what’s a big Broadway show without a little superfluous movement? Sit back and enjoy.

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