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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: 'Guys & Dolls' rewards with music, dance and character

Special to The Advertiser

The Diamond Head Theatre revival of Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls" plays like a lovingly restored museum piece. Subtitled "a musical fable," the show is alive with wonderful music, some good dance numbers, and a collection of memorable characters as the Save-A-Soul Mission sets out to reform a street full of gamblers and crooks.

The DHT production moves well, sounds great, and is a visual treat filled with jelly-bean colored zoot-suits and chorus girl skanties on a unit set that uses wagons to swiftly change locales.

The only soft spot is that the central love interest between gambler Sky Masterson (Mick Gallagher) and revivalist Sarah Brown (Lydia Pusateri) never catches fire. The bad-boy-meets-good-girl set-up is a romantic staple, but their relationship is doomed from "I'll Know (When My Love Comes Along)." Pusateri hits lovely, clear operatic high notes that dominate the duet; Gallagher works to carry his half of the tune. Their Act One finisher, "I've Never Been In Love Before" clinches that uneven relationship.

But the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows gives us lots of other Damon Runyon characters to look at, with attention shifting to the secondary comic pair, Nathan Detroit (Larry Bialock) and Miss Adelaide (Aubrey Lee Glover.)

Attention picks up whenever Glover and the Hot Box Dolls launch into their night club routines "A Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink." And the comic underpinnings of their 14-year engagement are nicely etched into their duet, "Sue Me".

But it's the supporting roles that provide the purest and best musical moments.

Johnathan Reed as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Kyle Malis as Benny Southstreet work beautiful harmony into the title song and are joined by Nic Amari as Rusty Charlie for the novelty "Fugue for Tinhorns." Ralph Brandt as Sarah's grandfather pulls plenty of sentimental emotion from "More I Cannot Wish You."

Choreographer Christine Yasunaga adds some moves to "The Crapshooter's Dance" that were probably not seen in the 1950 original production and puts lots of controlled chorus dynamics into "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" if you can take your eyes off Reed as Nicely-Nicely leads the number.

"If I Were A Bell" and "Luck Be Lady" are two enduring songs that are off the dramatic track in this production, and the disposable number "Havana" substitutes for the dream ballets that populated Broadway musicals of the Golden Age. Nevertheless, directors Rob Duval and Emmett Yoshioka keep the action and the music tight.

So come for the color, the comedy, the great songs and the nostalgia that make "Guys and Dolls" an enduring musical gem.


"Guys and Dolls"

8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays; matinees 3 p.m. May 22 and 29; through May 30

Diamond Head Theatre

$12-$42; discounts for those under 18, full-time students, seniors and active military

733-0274, www.diamondheadtheatre.com