|Frank Loesser:||Guys and Dolls|
Cast & Performers
Adelaide: Rachel Burrows
Nathan Detroit: Mark Frankowski
Sky Masterson: Quintin Strack
Sarah Brown: Dena Oyen
Big Jule: Natalie Buster
Conductor: Karlos Moser
Hats off to director/choreographer John Staniunas! His talents shone brilliantly in the UW Theater and Opera's co-production of Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls" at the Union Theater. Fast-paced (not always fast enough) and lively, the show sounded good and looked better. Great sets by Joseph Varga framed the action of a large cast draped in terrific costumes by Sydney Catron and Melanie Schuessler, with very effective lighting by John Hessler. There were problems with sound quality here and there, a difficult technical problem under the best of conditions. Good direction is in a sense invisible -- things flow naturally and relate seamlessly to each other -- and that was the case here. But the choreography was of course entirely visible and it was absolutely dazzling and highly original.
An unavoidable structural weakness of the work is the length of the first act, 90 minutes, but the actors kept up their stamina. The piece has kerjillion parts (55), but the leads all did well with their New York accents. As Adelaide, Rachel Burrows hit her stride in "A Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink." As her 14-year fiancé Nathan Detroit, Mark Frankowski managed to be endearing and infuriating all at once. As the high-roller Sky Masterson, Quintin Strack cut a smooth figure and put his songs over well, even with an untrained voice. Opposite him, Dena Oyen's Sarah Brown was tidy and prim, but she can sing; the high point for them was "I've Never Been in Love Before." Of the lesser but important roles, by far the standout was Natalie Buster as Big Jule, the gun-toting Chicago crap-shooter; she has a great comedic gift.
Karlos Moser directed the pit orchestra, which was a little thin in the string section, but Moser kept the show moving well. There are two more performances, Thursday and Saturday, at 7:30 pm.
Isthmus, April, 1997
Copyright 1997 Jess Anderson