‘Guy and Dolls’ at Timber Lake.
By Sue Langenberg
Timber Lake Playhouse opened its 2012 season Thursday evening with rousing musical “Guys and Dolls,” a timeless show. The summer stock theatre of Mt. Carroll kicked off the 51st year to promise yet another dizzying schedule of six productions and two children’s theatre.
Original “Guy and Dolls” premiered on Broadway in 1950 and ran 1200 performances. The award-winning show aligned itself with many others that captured the spirit of decades ago when Broadway danced, sang and uplifted audiences. Some of these other feel good shows of the time include “Oklahoma” (1943), “The King and I” (1951) and “The Sound of Music” (1959), all of which were the creative genius of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It was Broadway heyday thanks to their winning formula.
“Guys and Dolls,” was part of that heyday as a musical fable of Broadway originally based on Dan Runyon short stories and city-slicker characters with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Artistic director Jim Beaudry notes that the show has not been produced at TLP for 30 years, and thus felt that it was time to take another look at this delightful piece. Like most shows, this one was born generations before Beaudry and cast. He takes research seriously, however, and is always able to authenticate the feel of the times. Add some slick Oxford shoes (costumes by Tate Ellis and Katy Freeman) and underground lighting (Michael Stanfill design) and the show takes off.
Classic are the characters, as well as the recurring contrasts between love and trust, virtue and sin and all other excuses to sing, dance and fight. Some memorable songs include lover’s duet “I’ll Know,” and “Luck Be a Lady.”
Guest choreographer Will Taylor took on the task of visualizing many styles in this production. He directed moves and gestures in the first act with saucy Havana Spanish for couples, then took an all male cast of dancers through Crapshoot Ballet in the second act. It is truly the highlight of the show and perhaps an unwittingly genius creation mindful of much earlier images found in Joffrey Ballet’s repertoire titled, “Green Table.”
As high stakes gambler Sky Masterson, TLP actor Dryden Meints has it all as lead romantic male with full-bodied vocal abilities and strong presence. He blends well with pious and prude Sarah Brown played by Hanah Rose Nardone, a lyrical soprano whose voice seems to sparkle with her character. Her role from straight-laced to accidentally drunk is a notable accomplishment in the Havana scene.
As comical and tough-talking female Miss Adelaide, Hayley Gribble storms the stage with her “goils’ and “poils” slang as she leads her Hot Box Girls through glitzy and campy moves. Fourteen year fiancé Nathan Detroit is an illegal crap-gamer played by Joe Capstick, well cast for his smooth non-truths. The rest of the talented cast will continue to shine as the season progresses.
Must-see “Guys and Dolls” continues Friday June 8 and runs through Sunday June 17 matinee at Timber Lake Playhouse. Tuesday through Saturday evening shows at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. The Mt. Carroll boonies are a hop, skip and a jump to 8215 Black Oak Road. Call the box office at (815) 244-2035 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets, group rates and more information. Note area road closures in June that include Timber Lake Road. From Rt. 78, take 40 East to Black Oak Road and turn right. From Rt. 40 West continue to Black Oak Road and turn left.