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Theater Review: “Guys and Dolls”

“Guys and Dolls” plays through February 24, 2019 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.
Photo credit:
Vanessa Dinning

Ah, it’s a good day. Some of my favorite fictional characters are back onstage: the tinhorns at the top of the show pretending they’ve “got the horse right here;” Sister Sarah the evangelist and her buddies from the local Salvation Army mission looking for souls to save; Miss Adelaide’s Hot Box Girls dancing nearly naked, and gambler extraordinaire Nathan Detroit (Dave Rivas) trying to find a place for the crap game tonight.

“Guys and Dolls” is back through Feb. 24 in a jaunty and particularly high-kicking production at Coronado Playhouse that will remind you what a brilliant musical it really is.

You remember the plot. Nathan Detroit (Dave Rivas), the “finder” for the crap game, has heard Big Jule (Daniel Hall) from Chicago is in town and wants to play, but Joey Biltmore wants $1000 for them to use his garage. That’s $1000 more than Nathan has. And he has to arrange the deal on the QT because that annoying cop Lt. Brannigan (Adam Sheldon) is watching.

But things are looking up: Sky Masterson (Christopher T Miller) has just blown into town. He’s the only guy Nathan knows who will bet on anything.

Meanwhile, Nathan’s girlfriend Miss Adelaide (Alyssa Anne Slagle) is getting a little impatient with their 14-year engagement and wants that “plain little band of gold” – especially because she’s told mom over the years that she’s not only long since married, but the mother of five.

Sarah Brown (Olivia Torres), the “mission doll,” is getting impatient too. Her conversion rate is abysmal and she’s beginning to think this isn’t the job for her.

So when Sky bets Nathan that he can take any doll Nathan names to dinner in Havana (yes, that Havana), Nathan names Sarah Brown.

With plot threads like that, all you need is a smashing score, a great cast and a terrific director to turn out a Tony-winning show. This production has it all (aside from a few misplaced notes from the orchestra).

The major roles are all well cast. Alyssa Anne Slagle is excellent as the cold-prone Miss Adelaide; Olivia Torres a mission doll Sarah may fall from grace in one sense, but that voice is something to shout about.

Dave Rivas is terrific as professional gambler (and marriage-phobe) Nathan and  Christopher T Miller’s Sky Masterson as much fun to watch as his voice is to listen to.

Director Justin Allen Slagle and Stan Soth have come up with simplified sets and movable pieces that suit the theater’s small stage.

But there’s nothing simplified about the costumes. Credit Marcene Drysdale with finding or creating the brightly colored costumes. I can’t recall a time I saw Harry the Horse in purple stripes, or Benny Southstreet in conservative black with blindingly red shoes, hatband and shirt. It’s a symphony in black and red.

Kudos to orchestra conductor director Larry Wilson and his 13 (hmm, is that unlucky?) players, who keep the beat going.

Mary Allison Dunsmore contributes lots of spirited choreography. To be honest, the women are better than the men, but it all contributes to the joyous portrayal of this beloved musical.

“Guys and Dolls” plays through Feb. 24. Get your tickets now.

The details

“Guys and Dolls” plays through February 24, 2019 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm