Director's roll of the dice comes up 11 in casting for 'Guys and Dolls' show

June 10, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

With its colorful cast of gamblers, floozies and Salvation Army lassies and a musical score that keeps the hits coming fast and furious, it's better than even money that "Guys and Dolls" is going to enchant an audience if a cast can do it justice.

Some very appealing talent has assembled across from the City Dock; enough to make the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre "the oldest established permanent floating crap game" in the capital this summer.

It is a spirited affair highlighted by excellent leads, some cute choreography and, above all, that remarkable Frank Loesser score that contains such songs as "Luck Be a Lady Tonight," "A Bushel and a Peck," "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" and "I'll Know When My Love Comes Along."

The romantic leads are the key to any "Guys and Dolls," and director Mike Gilles' dice came up 11 on his first roll with this talented quartet.

Jill and Roger Compton, Annapolis' "first couple" of theater, excel as Sarah Browne, the Salvation Army preacher, and Sky Masterson, the high-rolling gambler who whisks her off to Havana where she temporarily drops her tambourine.

Ms. Compton is her usual delightful self on stage -- emphatic, vulnerable and ready to ascend to the vocal stratosphere at a moment's notice to bring Sarah's dicey songs down to earth.

Roger Compton, always an elegant performer, is a virile, thoroughly likable Sky who contributes a spirited "Luck be a Lady" and partners his wife beautifully in their love duets.

The larcenist amid the gamblers is Eloise Bredder, who steals numerous scenes as Adelaide, the proverbial "dumb blond" whose inability to bring her guy to the altar proves injurious to her health. Her "A Person Can Develop a Cold" alone is worth the ticket price.

If you're expecting a Sinatra-esque Nathan Detroit, Tim King is going to surprise you with facial expressions of Scrooge-like dyspepsia, his Herman Munster posture, and a Ratso Rizzo voice thrown in for good measure. But somehow it all works. He's hilarious.

Most ensemble numbers go well, especially the Havana dance sequence in which Jennifer Sjolie's choreography is beautifully realized.

The fellows are impressive in "Luck Be a Lady," but some of their selections are a bit undernourished, particularly "The Oldest Established," which sounded and looked downright scrawny. And why do all the women wear identical brown wigs? Not much variety, I'd say.

And someone on the set crew doesn't know Manhattan very well. On-stage signs indicate that the Bronx is south of 45th Street and the Empire State Building due east of Broadway and 49th.

Wake up, guys! New York, New York is a helluva town, but the Bronx is up, the Battery's down, and the Empire State Building is 15 blocks south from where you think it is. Oy.

But quibbles and faulty geography aside, the show is still a treat. The songs are great, even gangsters like "Big Julie" from Chicago have hearts of gold, and the guys live happily ever after with their dolls who set 'em straight once and for all.

Who can resist?

"Guys and Dolls" will be at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre through July 18. The theater is at the intersection of Compromise and Main streets. For ticket information, call 268-0809.

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