Guys and Dolls – Review by Tom Nissley

ACT in Ridgefield has opened a beautiful production of Frank Loesser’s Musical (with a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, based on characters first described by Damon Runyon). It’s awash with great actors, beautiful voices, fun stagecraft [Thank you Dan Levine], and amazing choreography [Thank you Sara Brians].

The story pits a wandering Crap Game organizer (Phil Sloves) Nathan Detroit against the renowned gambler (Matt Faucher) Sky Masterson in a bet that Masterson will not be able to take (Katherine Riddle) the charming Salvation Army ingenue Sarah Brown on a dinner date. Masterson succeeds. The dinner date is in Havana. Sarah falls in love with Sky and he returns that favor but is afraid to commit to marriage.

Nathan, on the other hand, has been engaged to (Donna Vivino) Miss Adelaide, a star burlesque dancer, for fourteen years, always promising that they will get married soon and that he will stop running the Crap Games. The happy ending has Adelaide and Sarah teaming up to insist that their men marry them NOW!

But there’s so much more than the story to this production. Of course, there are familiar songs, and all those songs have some great voice singing them. Matt Faucher as Masterson got my full attention just by speaking and even more so when he joined the rich tones of Katherine Riddle’s Sarah in “I’ll know when my love comes along…” Donna Vivino as Adelaide burst forth with “I love you, a bushel and a peck,” and later soared with “Take back your mink.” Late in Act Two, there’s a moment when one of the stalwart Salvation Army leaders (Rebecca Hoodwin) named Arvide Abernathy gives a boost to Sarah Brown with advice about following her heart. The song is “More I cannot wish you,” and Ms. Hoodwin’s beautiful contralto voice delivers it with operatic grandeur. Wow!

Phil Sloves as Nathan Detroit is the other operatic voice that rises gloriously as he battles Adelaide over how and when they will marry. And there are lots of other great singers in the company. No musical selection is left behind.

The set design [Jack Mehler] is excellent, as is the lighting [Chris Chambers]. And the marvelous costumes [Claudia Stephany] shine throughout the show. This is a production not to be missed. Contact ACT today and if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, Go! Go! Go! ACT Box office: 475-215-5497

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre.