Guys and Dolls

Dane Stokinger and Mallory King star in Village Theatre’s vibrant production of “Guys and Dolls” now playing through Dec. 29 in Issaquah, and Jan. 3 through Feb. 2, 2020 at Everett Performing Arts Center.

Musical theatre is the most “American” of art forms, and I have always regarded Frank Loesser’s sassy song-fest “Guys and Dolls” (1950) as the quintessential American musical comedy. I love the songs and the fantasy version of life in New York City. Adapted by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows from Damyon Runyon’s stories, the show has a definite “Big City” vibe. And that is a vastly different, more embracing and inclusive vibe than the “American rural” vibe of “Oklahoma!” (1943) and the repressed, judgmental small-town vibe of “The Music Man” (1957). Only in pure musical comedy could goofy gamblers, a Salvation Army sweetheart, and a long-suffering nightclub singer struggle, live, laugh, and love in such close proximity. This is the environment of “Guys and Dolls,” brought back to life in the vibrant production at Village Theatre. The production is silly, sweet fun — and it is not afraid to wear its “Golden Age Of Musical Theatre” heart on its sleeve. Billie Wildrick is no stranger to “Guys and Dolls,” having played the role of Miss Adelaide to great acclaim in the 5th Avenue Theatre Production in 2011. Lately, Miss Wildrick has channeled her multi-talents toward directing. Last holiday season, her production of “Annie” at the 5th Avenue Theatre shimmered with magic. She invests “Guys and Dolls” with a similar sense of uplifting, high-spirits and humanity. “I hope it reminds people that coming at the world from wholly different perspectives can not only be a part of our most dear relationships, it’s downright essential in making our world go ‘round,” Wildrick said in an interview. “The show is all about chemistry. Discerning audience members can look for an exciting, vibrant feel in the color palette; (from scenic designer Steven Capone and costume designer Cathy Hunt) and an explosive, reactionary energy in the choreography (by Nikki Long) and performances.” The subtitle of “Guys and Dolls” is “a musical fable of Broadway,” and it plays like a very funny, fractured fairy tale. Life-long gambler Nathan Detroit (Matt Wolfe) can’t find a location for his established crap game since the heat is seriously on from police Lt. Brannigan (Charles Leggett). Nathan bets his high-roller buddy Sky Masterson (Dane Stokinger) that he can’t whisk straight-laced Salvation Army “doll” Sarah Brown (Mallory King) off to Cuba. Sky is not one to back down from a challenge, no matter how prim and proper Sarah appears to be on the surface. Nathan’s on-again, off- again engagement with soft-hearted chanteuse Miss Adelaide (Kate Jaeger) usually grabs the bulk of audience attention in “Guys and Dolls.” Miss Adelaide is one of the most celebrated comedic roles in musical theatre. She will always be an endearing and sympathetic character, but there is something curiously muted in Miss Jaegar’s interpretation. She is not particularly funny, and she does not generate much laughter or have much sparkle during Miss Adelaide’s usually show-stopping numbers “Adelaide’s Lament” and “Take Back Your Mink.” The “Mink” number is also off-kilter. The “gender-bender” spin on this fun strip-tease makes the number seem like something out of “Cabaret” (1966) or “Victor/Victoria” (1982) instead of “Guys and Dolls.” With a muted Adelaide, and a somewhat muted Nathan Detroit by extension, the “star power” in the production shifts to the characters of Sky and Sarah. This caused me to see the show from an entirely different perspective. The character of Sarah always seemed a bit too self-righteous and “holier than thou” for my tastes. As played by Mallory King, Sarah is more approachable and down-to-earth than ever before. Sarah is, at last, shown as the right girl doing good things in the wrong place. Sarah is as lost as the “sinners” she is trying to save. That point is beautifully emphasized in a sweet scene between Sarah and her grandfather Arvid (Allen Fitzpatrick). Mr. Fitzpatrick sings her the soothing song “More I Can Not Wish You,” a quiet gem in a very big show. Dane Stokinger tones down Sky’s cock-sure, macho swagger in favor of more charming, honest and human behaviors. Sarah is now the “doll” we would all love to protect and go to lunch with, and Sky is definitely the “guy” we would all love to fly to Cuba and back with. The role of Sky fits Dane Stokinger like a glove. I loved Mallory King swinging and swaying to the tune of “If I Were A Bell.” And when Dane Stokinger catches her just before she falls, it a perfectly charming moment. Rather late in Act II, the production bursts with its undisputed showstopper “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat.” Kyle Nicholas Anderson and cast pull out all the stops as the gamblers save Sarah’s struggling Salvation Army station. This invigorating number pops with “Praise the Lord”-like fervor. The production runs close to three hours with intermission, but zips by with so much energy, it seems to run at just under two hours. The production plays in Issaquah through Dec. 29, and moves to Everett Performing Arts Center, playing Jan 3. through Feb. 2, 2020.

Musical theatre is the most “American” of art forms, and I have always regarded Frank Loesser’s sassy song-fest “Guys and Dolls” (1950) as the quintessential American musical comedy. I love the songs and the fantasy version of life in New York City.

Adapted by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows from Damyon Runyon’s stories, the show has a definite “Big City” vibe. And that is a vastly different, more embracing and inclusive vibe than the “American rural” vibe of “Oklahoma!” (1943) and the repressed, judgmental small-town vibe of “The Music Man” (1957).

Only in pure musical comedy could goofy gamblers, a Salvation Army sweetheart, and a long-suffering nightclub singer struggle, live, laugh, and love in such close proximity. This is the environment of “Guys and Dolls,” brought back to life in the vibrant production at Village Theatre. The production is silly, sweet fun — and it is not afraid to wear its “Golden Age Of Musical Theatre” heart on its sleeve.

Billie Wildrick is no stranger to “Guys and Dolls,” having played the role of Miss Adelaide to great acclaim in the 5th Avenue Theatre Production in 2011. Lately, Miss Wildrick has channeled her multi-talents toward directing. Last holiday season, her production of “Annie” at the 5th Avenue Theatre shimmered with magic. She invests “Guys and Dolls” with a similar sense of uplifting, high-spirits and humanity.

“I hope it reminds people that coming at the world from wholly different perspectives can not only be a part of our most dear relationships, it’s downright essential in making our world go ‘round,” Wildrick said in an interview. “The show is all about chemistry. Discerning audience members can look for an exciting, vibrant feel in the color palette; (from scenic designer Steven Capone and costume designer Cathy Hunt) and an explosive, reactionary energy in the choreography (by Nikki Long) and performances.”

The subtitle of “Guys and Dolls” is “a musical fable of Broadway,” and it plays like a very funny, fractured fairy tale. Life-long gambler Nathan Detroit (Matt Wolfe) can’t find a location for his established crap game since the heat is seriously on from police Lt. Brannigan (Charles Leggett). Nathan bets his high-roller buddy Sky Masterson (Dane Stokinger) that he can’t whisk straight-laced Salvation Army “doll” Sarah Brown (Mallory King) off to Cuba. Sky is not one to back down from a challenge, no matter how prim and proper Sarah appears to be on the surface.

Nathan’s on-again, off- again engagement with soft-hearted chanteuse Miss Adelaide (Kate Jaeger) usually grabs the bulk of audience attention in “Guys and Dolls.” Miss Adelaide is one of the most celebrated comedic roles in musical theatre. She will always be an endearing and sympathetic character, but there is something curiously muted in Miss Jaegar’s interpretation. She is not particularly funny, and she does not generate much laughter or have much sparkle during Miss Adelaide’s usually show-stopping numbers “Adelaide’s Lament” and “Take Back Your Mink.” The “Mink” number is also off-kilter. The “gender-bender” spin on this fun strip-tease makes the number seem like something out of “Cabaret” (1966) or “Victor/Victoria” (1982) instead of “Guys and Dolls.”

With a muted Adelaide, and a somewhat muted Nathan Detroit by extension, the “star power” in the production shifts to the characters of Sky and Sarah. This caused me to see the show from an entirely different perspective.

The character of Sarah always seemed a bit too self-righteous and “holier than thou” for my tastes. As played by Mallory King, Sarah is more approachable and down-to-earth than ever before. Sarah is, at last, shown as the right girl doing good things in the wrong place. Sarah is as lost as the “sinners” she is trying to save. That point is beautifully emphasized in a sweet scene between Sarah and her grandfather Arvid (Allen Fitzpatrick). Mr. Fitzpatrick sings her the soothing song “More I Can Not Wish You,” a quiet gem in a very big show.

Dane Stokinger tones down Sky’s cock-sure, macho swagger in favor of more charming, honest and human behaviors. Sarah is now the “doll” we would all love to protect and go to lunch with, and Sky is definitely the “guy” we would all love to fly to Cuba and back with. The role of Sky fits Dane Stokinger like a glove. I loved Mallory King swinging and swaying to the tune of “If I Were A Bell.” And when Dane Stokinger catches her just before she falls, it a perfectly charming moment.

Rather late in Act II, the production bursts with its undisputed showstopper “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat.” Kyle Nicholas Anderson and cast pull out all the stops as the gamblers save Sarah’s struggling Salvation Army station. This invigorating number pops with “Praise the Lord”-like fervor.

The production runs close to three hours with intermission, but zips by with so much energy, it seems to run at just under two hours. The production plays in Issaquah through Dec. 29, and moves to Everett Performing Arts Center, playing Jan 3. through Feb. 2, 2020.

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