AISLE SAY San Francisco


Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Directed by Jay Manley
Presented by Foothill Music Theatre
At Smithwick Theater
Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road,
Los Alto Hills, CA / (650) 949-7360

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Author Damon Runyon's stories paid homage to the denizens of Broadway, and the musical "Guys and Dolls" immortalizes them. With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, the 1950 Broadway smash finds itself on the Foothill Musical Theatre stage, where director Jay Manley works his customary magic with an enthusiastic, talented, energetic cast of mostly students and community members. The result is nothing short of a full evening of fun.

"Guys and Dolls" tells two love stories. One involves Nathan Detroit (Tim Reynolds), who runs "The Oldest Established" floating crap game in New York, and his beloved Miss Adelaide (Karen DeHart), lead performer at the Hot Box Nightclub. They have been engaged for 14 years, but Nathan keeps finding excuses to delay a wedding. The other love story involves Sky Masterson (Carmichael Blankenship), the career gambler who finds himself falling for Sister Sarah Brown (Keite Davis), the attractive young leader of the Save-A-Soul Mission.

All four principals are excellent. Reynolds is an accomplished comic actor. His Nathan is well paired with DeHart's Adelaide, who just gets funnier as the show wears on. Both Blankenship and Davis are fine singers with strong stage presence. The supporting cast is solid, too, especially John Brown as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, who joins Chris Ferejohn as Benny Southstreet and Manuel Caneri as Rusty Charlie in "Fugue for Tinhorns," a uniquely memorable opening number. Brown also stops the show as he leads the company in "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat." Also noteworthy is John Musgrave as the mission's kindly Rev. Arvide Abernathy.

Like so many other theater companies these days, FMT faces money woes. The tight budget is apparent only in small ways, though. Janis Bergmann's costumes and Joe Ragey's settings are less elaborate than usual but serviceable nevertheless. Musical director Catherine Snider ably leads the small pit band. Tyler Risk's choreography is good but can't compare with his work in some other FMT shows. The sound is by Andrew Heller.

The show sparkles in the most important areas, though: the acting and the singing. What results is a polished, thoroughly enjoyable production of a Broadway gem.

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