By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Because even a so-so production of Guys and Dolls — and this one is so, so full of problems — beats craptastic junk like 9 to 5 and Spamalot. With Guys and Dolls, based on Damon Runyon's 1930s stories of mooks and molls on the streets of Manhattan, you get three hours of great tunes and snappy lyrics by Frank Loesser and plenty of roundhouse punch lines in the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
The close-harmony "Fugue for Tinhorns," the one that has the fat guy singing "I got horse right here / His name is Paul Revere," sets the tone for the show and its characters, gambling-addicted thugs and lowlifes, though lovable ones. "If I Were a Bell," "My Time of Day" (an ode to how New York City looks and feels just before dawn), "Luck Be a Lady," "Sue Me" — American musical theater classics, as sophisticated and witty as ever.
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If only this cast didn't come across as a bunch of semi-exhausted understudies. In the leads are actors with Broadway credits but low-watt star quality (except for Sikora). Slick hustler Sky Masterson is played by Ben Crawford, a B-list Craig Bierko with a dash of Mr. Big. As his lady-love, the virginal Salvation Army crusader Sarah Brown, Erin Davie is a loud but lackluster soprano. There's not a whiff of sex appeal between her and Crawford; more like actors tired of the sight of each other after a long, hot summer on tour. Sky's sidekick, Nathan Detroit, is given baggy-pants Catskills comic shtick by the Lovitz-like Steve Rosen. Not hilarious. Just funny-ish. (Direction by Gordon Greenberg has a tiresome predictability throughout.)
Still, it's Guys and Dolls, a show so goof-proof even high school productions are usually pretty good. The road company never hits the jackpot, but it's pretty good, too.
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