Guys and Dolls – Review by Nancy Sasso Janis

Sharon Playhouse is back in a big way with a very professional production of the musical fable “Guys and Dolls.” Justin Boccitto, currently serving as Interim Artistic Director at the Playhouse, directs and choreographs the first fully staged main stage production in three years, which features five Broadway veterans.

Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical New York City, this classic show is an oddball romantic comedy. The gambler Nathan Detroit tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town and keep the authorities at bay. At the same time, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for a whopping fourteen years. So Nathan turns to fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, for the money, and Sky ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown.

“Guys and Dolls” takes audiences from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually everyone ends up right where they belong. The memorable music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser, with a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

A very strong cast appears to enjoy performing this all-tap dancing version of the comfortably well-worn musical. It is always fun to watch a stage full of tap dancers tapping in unison. There is a back-lit shadow play that opens the show and the ensemble members manage some of the set changes in character.

Amanda Lea LaVergne, who I remembered as Reno Sweeney in Sharon Playhouse’s “Anything Goes,” stars as the missionary Sarah Brown. This Equity actress sings magnificently all of the high notes in her musical numbers and has a glowing stage presence.

Equity member C.K. Edwards (“Shuffle Along”) plays Sky Masterson, with a great singing voice and bits of strong tap dancing, in his Sharon Playhouse debut.

Lauralyn McClelland (“SpongeBob”) is a delight to watch in what she calls one of her dream roles of the perpetually engaged Miss Adelaide. I enjoyed every moment that this Equity actress was on the stage.

Equity’s Robert Anthony Jones (“Finding Neverland”) does well as the perpetual gambler Nathan Detroit.

The rest of the cast are wonderfully talented triple threats, who tap dance in just the right amount of tap routines. I did not need to worry that the Latin dancing would become a tap number. Dani Champagne served as associate choreographer and the musical direction is by Jacob Carll. The eight member orchestra makes the most of the memorable score and some of the vocal harmonies are almost choir-like in nature.

Joshua Spencer does better than “nicely” as Nicely-Nicely Johnson. In the roles of the gamblers, Dom Giovanni plays Benny Southstreet, David Fanning (appropriately) is Big Jule in his 12th Sharon production, Nicholas J. Reese plays Rusty Charlie, Evan Lennon is Harry the Horse, and Vincent Law plays Angie the Ox.

John Champion portrays Lt. Brannigan, Emily Soell, President of the Board of Directors, is the stern General Cartwright, and TJ Kubler covers Joey Biltmore and Society Max.

The ensemble members Michelle Lemon, Danielle Jackman, Stephanie Eve Parker, and Mackenzie Farrell become tap dancers in “The Crapshooter’s Dance,” but balance out the pews for “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” as female missionaries. Those who are keeping track will notice that Sky was a few men shy of the dozen gamblers that he guaranteed he would bring to the mission.

What a treat to see community theater veteran and real life physician Payton Turpin portraying the bass drum playing Arvide Abernathy on this stage. He even gets to sing the lovely “More I Cannot Wish Wish” to his granddaughter, Sarah.

The scenic artist by Karla Woodworth includes some vintage product logos. There are a bevy of beautiful costume changes designed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case and excellent wig design by Kurt Alger.

Sharon Playhouse is the critically acclaimed non-profit professional theater that brings theater to the Northwest Corridor every summer. The barn is nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Berkshires, just miles from the New York state line. The Playhouse strives to be a cultural institution providing exciting summer entertainment and training opportunities for novice and professional actors.

Masks are required for all audience members inside the Bobbie Olsen Theater and Bok Stage. “Guys and Dolls” runs in the Bobbie Olsen Theater at Sharon Playhouse through Aug. 14. The Playhouse is easy to find at 49 Armenia Road in Sharon. Roll the dice and grab your tickets now at