As Janice and I were leaving Asolo Rep's delicious production of "Guys and Dolls," she pointed out that the show was a great contrast to the serious--and unfortunately timely--production of Florida Rep's "Best of Enemies" we'd seen the prior week. Her comment has lingered with me. (It also prompted me to watch a YouTube video of the wonderful SNL Point/Counterpoint with Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd. Jane is not, in fact, an ignorant slut.)
First, the fun. Like last year, Asolo Rep is kicking off its season with a crowd-pleasing musical. I sometimes take myself entirely too seriously. While I was looking forward to seeing "Guys and Dolls," I had found myself doing some advance eye-rolling about the light-hearted show. Isn't theater supposed to make me contemplate the world and my place in it, etc., etc.?
|Todd Buonopane (in plaid) killed "You're Rockin' the Boat"|
Great lyrics can be wasted, though, if the singers aren't up to the task. But Asolo Rep's production features a cast filled with Broadway-caliber voices. The resumes of the four leads (Cole Burden/Sky; Audrey Cardwell/Sarah; and Chris Hoch/Nathan Detroit; Julie Kavanagh/Adelaide) are filled with National Tour credits and a spattering of Broadway shows. Cardwell's voice had an operatic quality made for the stage. Burden and Hoch were terrific as well.
|Burden, Cardwell, Kavanagh and Hoch|
Kavanagh's non-musical moments were equally captivating. Her expressions were priceless. Her mincing steps as she walked around in her form-fitting dresses provided the perfect contrast to Cardwell's marching around the stage in her maroon "save your souls" outfit. (Poor Cardwell to have to wear this homely dress in the midst of the glamour.)
here to see some photos of his work.)
And if you (meaning me) want a more serious take-away from the show, here's an interesting tidbit. "Guys and Dolls" won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1951. It was also up for the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The book for the show (which was based on two stories by Damon Runyon) was written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Unfortunately, Burrows had gotten caught up with the House Un-American Activities Committee due to his association with some Communist Party members. This resulted in the Pulitzer nomination being vetoed.
"Guys and Dolls" plays at Asolo Rep through January 1st. It's well worth the effort required to fit it into your holiday schedule.
Next up: The more thought-provoking "Best of Enemies."