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Nathan Detroit (played by Jack Van Gieson) gets the cold shoulder from Adelaide (Kaylin Penley)

Nathan Detroit (played by Jack Van Gieson) gets the cold shoulder from Adelaide (Kaylin Penley) in Sanford High School’s recent production of “Guys and Dolls”

By Lawrence Furbish and Barbara Sutcliffe

Guys and Dolls is one of the most famous Broadway shows. Everything about it is big – cast, lots of dialogue, music and dance numbers, and history. To succeed, this show needs to start big, and it did with the Fugue for Tinhorns. “I got a horse right here; his name is Paul Revere.” Drake Wilson (Nicely Nicely Johnson), Braeden Landry (Benny), and Salem Brown (Rusty) brought it off with a bang.

Based on short stories by journalist Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls is set in post WWII New York City and is populated with gamblers and dames speaking a humorous mixture of formal speech and colorful slang called Runyonese. The cast did a great job of capturing this. Maybe they were channeling Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra from the movie version.

The leads were all first rate, Hope Abbott-Eaton (Sarah Brown), the Sergeant of the Mission to Save Souls, Kaylin Penley (Miss Adelaide), headliner at the Hot Box Club, Mason Van Gieson (Nathan Detroit), purveyor of the “oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York,” and Jack Van Gieson (Sky Masterson), gambler extraordinaire. It wouldn’t be at all surprising in a few years to see Kaylin and Hope furthering their careers on the stage.

The male leads were charming and sweet, complementing the talented females. Several of the supporting characters were also excellent; Val Randall (Aunt Abby Abernathy) was perfectly matched with Sarah in their Act II duet, Ben Terril (Harry the Horse) was first-rate, and Jack Sevigny (Big Jule) displayed great athleticism and a talent for cheating at the Chicago-style of craps.

A highlight of the show was the humorous yet moving duet, Sue Me, where Nathan tries to convince Adelaide that he loves her while she expresses her doubts and frustration with their 14-year engagement. Another highlight was the big final number, Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat led by Drake Wilson (Nicely Nicely Johnson), but featuring the whole ensemble. It truly rocked.

The sets were great, especially the large and colorful background scrims featuring New York City and, of course, the sewer where the crap games took place. The pit orchestra was up to the task in handling this big score, and one of the really clever touches was the way the quality of the mission band kept deteriorating as the show went on until, at the end, it was practically unlistenable as they lost steam for their cause.

50 students, SHS presented “Guys and Dolls”

With a cast and crew of more than 50 students, SHS presented “Guys and Dolls” to over 2,000 audience members at Sanford Performing Arts Center.

Congratulations, Sanford High School Theater Company for taking on this really big show and doing a fantastic job.

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