An Exemplary Classic “Guys and Dolls” at The Wick
By Skip Sheffield
Though it is set in a specific time and place (New York City, early 1950s), “Guys and Dolls” is a timeless, evergreen musical.
The Wick Theatre has honored this classic with a bright and splashy tribute to Damon Runyon’s shady colorful Broadway characters onstage through April 9 at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Inspired by journalist Damon Runyon’s short stories of the 1930s and 1940s, “Guys and Dolls” is built around 14 wonderful songs by Frank Loesser. Abe Burrows designed a book around those songs.
The atmosphere is set by “Fugue for Tinhorns,” sung by Nicely Nicely Johnson (Shaun Rice), Benny Southstreet (Taylor Wright) and Rusty Charlie (Kevin Robert Kelly). The guys are touting various prospects in an upcoming horserace.
Most all of the characters in “Guys and Dolls” are inveterate gamblers, willing to bet on anything. But the story is really a dual romance, centering on Nathan Detroit (Wayne LeGette), instigator of the “Oldest floating crap game in New York,” and his long-suffering girlfriend, Miss Adelaide (Lauren Weinberg). Nathan and Adelaide have been engaged 14 years, but Nathan just can’t commit.
The other romance is the unlikely pairing of high-stakes gambler Sky Masterson (Timothy John Smith) and prim and proper Sarah Brown (Aaron Bower), who heads the Save-a-Soul Mission in the Bowery.
Nathan needs $1,000 to set up a craps game at the Biltmore Garage. Nathan bets Sky that needed $1,000 Sky cannot seduce Sarah Brown.
In previous versions of this show, Sky has been movie-star handsome. Timothy John Smith is not, but he is rugged and virile and he has a marvelous voice, all the better to sing the loveliest song, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” Wayne LeGette and Lauren Weinberg are the comic foils for Sky and Sarah. Weinberg is very funny as the perpetually sniffling, lovelorn Adelaide.
The technicolor outfits worn by the men and women are the sort you would never see in ordinary life, but in this case it adds to the mythical quality of a bygone New York.
I have seen “Guys and Dolls” many times. In college my roommate played Nathan Detroit. I never tire of it. It would have been nice if director Jeffrey B. Ross could have fit a live band onstage, but the recorded music by James Olmstead is quite adequate. This is an exemplary production of what many have called the “perfect musical."
Tickets are $75-$80. Call 561-995-2333 or go to www.thewick.org.