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Sunday, 19 June 2011 21:54

A Winning Roll of the Dice

Written by Laura Kyro
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The Details

Family Musical Theatre is putting Guys and Dolls through its paces at the Ivory Theatre in South St. Louis. This quintessential bit of musical theatre has been given a slightly uneven, but still entertaining outing by Directors Mike Hesser and Alison Driscoll, and Musical Director Michael Blackwood.

Kent Coffel and Stephanie Merritt gave solid portrayals as the eternally engaged craps game organizer Nathan Detroit and nightclub headliner Miss Adelaide.  Stephanie just clicked in her role and with all her songs. Kevin J. Jones as high-rolling gambler Sky Masterson, and Melissa Flinn (a talented soprano) as Mission evangelist Sarah Brown, brought together by a bet, just didn’t seem to exhibit the same chemistry as a couple.

Songs were mostly very well done, including numbers such as “Sit Down, You’re Rockin; the Boat,” “Sue Me,” “Oldest Established,” “Marry the Man Today,” and “Guys and Dolls.”  The song, “If I Were a Bell,” however, just didn’t work.

The supporting ensemble of those in the mission band, nightclub dancers, and gambling cronies were all over the place in regard to ages and level of talent, but overall worked very well. Standing out of the crowd, however, were John Jauss, a powerful singer in the role of Nicely Nicely Johnson, and Larry Love (Benny Southstreet) and Jim Kimker (Rusty Charlie) nailing their inventive dancing (both doubling respectively as Choreographer and Assistant Choreographer).

Technically the production was solid, but sound reproduction through the various personal microphones was uneven, sometimes actors seeming to be performing in an echoing bathroom somewhere. The mics were probably necessary at times to overcome the sound level of the strong 16-member orchestra, but given the fairly small size of the theatre, I believe vocal projection without mics should have been employed more consistently by the actors. Despite the fairly small stage, the set pieces (Mike Hesser as Set Designer) were versatile and colorful, and good use was made of the many sets of curtains the stage sported. Lighting was complementary to the action (especially in the sewer scene), and costumes (Cece Driscoll) worked extremely well.

Overall pacing was just a little slow in the 2 1/2 hour production (one 15-minute intermission), with a couple of big gaps for what I assume were set changes.

In all, Guys and Dolls by Family Musical Theatre was a production that didn’t come up "craps." Performances continue through June 26, 2011 at the Ivory Theatre. For more information, you may visit familymusical.org or call 314-448-1436.

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