Review: “Guys and Dolls” in Santa Rosa

If you’re a theatregoer who missed having Summer Repertory Theatre around this year, 6th Street Playhouse’s current production of Guys and Dolls may hold you until SRT returns in 2019.

It’s SRT Artistic Director James Newman who helms this production of the 1950 musical about colorful New York gamblers trying to avoid the police, a persistent fiancé, and the goodly influence of local missionaries.

Ezra Hernandez

Nathan Detroit (Ariel Zuckerman) runs the “oldest, established, permanent floating crap game in New York” but police pressure is making it difficult to find a place to house it. The only person willing to host wants a thousand bucks, which Nathan ain’t got. When word gets out that big-time gambler Sky Masterson (Ezra Hernandez) is in town, Nathan figures he can finance his game by getting Skye to make a sucker-bet that Nathan can’t lose. Nathan bets Sky he’ll be unable to get Sarah Brown (Elenor Paul), the leader of the newly-opened Save-a-Soul Mission, to go away with him for an evening.

While Skye goes about winning the bet (and falling in love, of course), Nathan scurries about trying to get the game going while avoiding the matrimonial pressure of his fiancé of fourteen years Adelaide (Ella Park.) Trouble comes to town in the forms of gun-toting Chicago gambler Big Jule (Carl Kraines), who’s looking for a game, and General Cartwright (Laura Davies) who wants to close the mission. Things work out for everyone after about a dozen-or-so Frank Loesser tunes and dance numbers.

Perhaps the most SRT-like aspect of this production is its youthful cast. It’s chock-full of SRJC Theatre Arts and high school grads mixed in with some stage vets. The casting leads to some significant age issues with the characters as written. Apparently, Miss Adelaide has been engaged since age six and there’s something a little unsettling about a teenage Harry the Horse (Benjamin Donner) roughing up senior citizen gambler Big Jule.

Thankfully, the talent onstage can get you past that issue. Zuckerman brings a legitimate New York vibe to his character and Hernandez has the cockiness requisite for Sky. The character arc for Sarah Brown isn’t particular believable, but Paul makes it work. Park is an absolute delight as Adelaide and her song (“Adelaide’s Lament”) is a show highlight.

The shows other highlights include Randy Nazarian’s terrific work as Nicely Nicely Johnson and the show-stopping “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” production number.

If you enjoy well-crafted productions of classic American musicals, it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy Guys and Dolls.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

‘Guys and Dolls’ runs Thursday–Sunday through October 14 at 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. Sixth St. Thursday–Saturday, 7:30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 2pm. $22–$35. 707.523.4185.

Photos by Eric Chazankin

This review appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian.

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