"Guys and Dolls" is a Sure Bet at Goodspeed

There is the unlikely budding romance between the clashing handsome hustler Sky Masterson (Tony Roach) and the naive young missionary Sarah Brown (Manna Nichols). Roach makes for a convincing Sky and has an adequate voice. Nichols is a bit bland in her role as Sarah, but makes up for it with her exquisite soprano, showcased in the solo, “If I Were a Bell,” and the duos (with Roach) “I’ll Know,” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” Also, there isn’t much romantic synergy between Roach and Nichols; the sparks just don’t fly.

The other romance -- and comic relief -- is between gambler Nathan Detroit (Mark Price) and his fiance of 14 years, Miss Adelaide (Nancy Anderson). Price is terrific as the afraid-to-commit, nice guy, con artist.

But Anderson is really the show stealer. Reminiscent of Bernadette Peters with fabulous facial expressions, she brings a lot of laughter and energy to her part as the ditzy, sexy gal who wants more than anything to get hitched to Nathan.

 One of her funniest bits is in the Hot Box Nightclub singing “A Bushel and A Peck,” dressed ridiculously as a chicken shaking her feathered derriere, surrounded by the Farmerettes in scant outfits and big straw hats. This is just one example of the many superb tongue-and-cheek costumes in the show designed by Tracy Christensen.

Michael O’Flaherty’s music direction is spot-on as usual and Alex Sanchez’s choreography is creative and precise and mesmerizing, enhanced by Stephen Terry’s stunning lighting in such numbers as the slow, sultry, sophisticated Havana, Cuba scene and the “Crapshooters Dance” in The Sewer scene.

Also worthy of mention is the Gospel-influenced “Sit Down, You’re Rockin the Boat,” nicely led by Nicely-Nicely and Company in the second act.

Of course all’s well that ends well, which is no surprise. The dolls get their guys, and the final number is even called “The Happy Ending,” so no spoiler alert needed.

There are some dragged out moments between numbers in the long Act I that runs an hour and fifteen minutes. Act II is a little shorter and tighter. But overall, this is a fun and fresh resurrection of the popular musical filled with catchy tunes and lots of laughs by a talented cast and crew.

Performances of Guys and Dolls continue through June 20 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. For times and tickets, call the box office at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org

This review appears in Shore Publishing community weeklies, and online at zip06.com and theday.com.

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