Lively 'Guys and Dolls' a gamble-free theater experience

Thursday, May 3, 2007

'Guys and Dolls'

When: 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday

Where: Crafton-Preyer Theatre, Kansas University's Murphy Hall

Tickets: Adults, $18; KU students and children, $10; senior citizens, $17

Ticket info: 864-3982

If - heaven forbid - the entire University Theatre cast of "Guys and Dolls" got laryngitis, and the orchestra didn't show up, the show would still be worth watching.

The production, which opened last weekend and continues with shows tonight, Friday and Saturday at Kansas University's Crafton-Preyer Theatre, is in many ways a spectacle.

First, there's the brightly colored set, with projected images from the 1930s and lighted signs.

Then, there are the costumes - women with dolled-up hair and elaborate dresses, and men in suits and hats with character.

Of course, the show includes several fun dance scenes. But it's really the actors' well-choreographed movements that tie it all together, such as the way the gamblers huddle around the dice during the crap game, or the silly walk of Big Jules.

The story, developed from characters by Damon Runyon, weaves in love and machismo. Nathan Detroit is desperate to find money for his occasional crap game. He bets friend Sky Masterson $1,000 that Masterson can't convince a local Salvation Army girl, Sgt. Sarah Brown, to go to Cuba with him.

When Masterson wins the bet and ends up falling in love with Brown, he bets the members of the crap game that if he wins a roll of the dice, they will all have to go to the Salvation Army. He wins, and the gamblers visit the mission and repent of their sins.

The quality and amount of visual flair isn't to say the show doesn't sound good. It does. The orchestra gives the entire production a big-band feel, and the large chorus pieces are solid.

Several individual performances shine as well. Kelsie DeNaze Clark was especially good as an especially sassy Miss Adelaide, creating a character that was both funny and sympathetic through her lines and songs.

Lawrence Henderson is a hoot as Nicely Nicely Johnson, and he sounds solid on the catchy "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat."

And the other two leads - Candice Bondank as Sarah Brown and Carter Waite as Nathan Detroit - play well off each other, and their voices blend comfortably on duets.

This show's a fun one, and going wouldn't be a gamble - just about anyone would enjoy it.