Guys And Dolls is high stakes fun

GUYS AND DOLLS by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows (Stratford). At the Festival Theatre. Runs in rep to.


GUYS AND DOLLS by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows (Stratford). At the Festival Theatre. Runs in rep to October 29. $25-$189. 1-800-567-1600. See listing. Rating: NNNN

One of the great things about classical repertory companies is you occasionally get to see dramatic actors in musical comedies.

Watching Evan Buliung a guy whos played everyone from Pericles and Petruchio to Tom Joad at Stratford sink his chops into the role of the worldly, slick gambler Sky Masterson in Guys And Dolls is absolutely fascinating. Theres depth and heft to his characterization, his booming singing voice shot through with Skys experience.

Its one of the joys in Donna Feores solid production of the musical.

Feore is best known as a choreographer, so its no wonder that some of the shows most memorable sequences involve movement, from the lively opening section, in which we get a vivid sense of the time and place (New York City in the early 30s), to the rousing, gravity-defying staging of Luck Be A Lady set in the sewers (nicely evoked by designer Michael Gianfrancesco).

Other highlights include the pairing of Steve Ross and Mark Uhre as contrasting comic small-time gamblers Nicely-Nicely and Benny. And Sean Arbuckle brings impeccable timing to his perennial bachelor Nathan Detroit.

Alexis Gordon adds lots of spunk and spirit to her conflicted missionary, Sarah, and shes got a sweet voice and obvious chemistry with Buliung. Her drunken antics in the Havana scene are more convincing than most stagings.

The only problem I have is with the casting of Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide. Wilson is an elegant, long-necked, poised actor, who wouldnt be out of place in a Noel Coward play.

But shes just not believable as the sexually suggestive nightclub performer. She sings her notes just fine how can you go wrong with Adelaides Lament? but its all calculated and cold.

Thankfully, Guys And Dolls is too solid a musical to be sidelined by one bit of miscasting. Bet you even money youll enjoy it.

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