Monday, August 6, 2018

Guys and Dolls—Broadway Rose—Tigard, OR

The Thorny Path To Salvation

    This classic, fun musical is based on the stories and characters by Damon Runyon, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.  This production is directed by Sharon Maroney, music direction by Jeffery Childs and choreography by Maria Tucker.  It is playing at their summer location (Deb Fennell Auditorium), 9000 SW Durham Rd., in Tigard, through August 19th.  For more information, go to their site at

    In this climate of the MeToo movement, nowadays, this musical might be considered “politically incorrect.”  Civilization in this country during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s was still in their infancy, as far as equal and respectful treatment of women (as well as ethnics).  And so, this story reflects those times.  Consider it a history lesson of an evolving culture.  That being said, the characters do reflect, in all its sometimes silliness, women who are equal, if not superior, to their male counterparts and, in the end, win the day.

    The plot is drawn from real characters Runyon knew in his time on the streets of NYC.  Other familiar films of his stories from that era were Little Miss Marker (Shirley Temple) and The Lemon-Drop Kid (Bob Hope), all fun but drawn from the underbelly of the big city.  In this incarnation, there are the gamblers/gangsters, their molls and the religious shakings of the Salvation Army.  A test of Good versus Evil, perhaps, when feet of clay will be molded into firmer footings.

    It seems that Sarah (Dru Rutledge) is out to save the derelicts and street hustlers from the seeds of evil.  But she meets her match in Sky (Ryan Reilly), a gambling, man of the first order, with no female strings on him.  And there is also Nathan (Joe Theissen) who runs the largest floating crap game in New York.  His main squeeze is Adelaide (Emily Sahler), the lead dancer of the Hot Box Club, who has been engaged to Nathan for 14 years.  Needles to say, much of the plot revolves around the uniting of these mismatched characters.

    Others, pulling them one way or the other, are the gamblers, Nicely-Nicely (Brandon B. Weaver), Harry (Richard Cohn-Lee) and Benny (Jesse Cromer), with the mob boss, Big Jule (Ethan LeFrance), making them “offers they can’t refuse.”  (a side note—I played Big Jule at SOC in the 60’s under the direction of
Dr. Angus Bowmer and the film actor, Sam Elliot, played him at Clark College during the same era).

    Others in this tug-of-war are the army of the righteous side with Sarah, and headed by the General (Margo Schembre) and Sarah’s mentor, Arvide (Dan Murphy, managing director of B/R).  Who will win in this battle for souls.  Need to see it to find out, don’t you?!

    Some marvelous songs are here, including the title number, “Sit Down Your Rockin’ The Boat” (led by the powerful voice of Weaver) and “Luck Be A Lady” (well sung by Reilly and company).  But the scene-stealing numbers are Adelaide’s Laments (Sahler, who has a belting voice that shakes the rafters).  Rutledge (an operatic voice) and Sahler have a touching number in “Marry the Man Today,” and Sahler and Theissen with the humorous, “Sue Me.”  And one of my favorites, the sentimental ballad, “More I Cannot Wish You,” nicely rendered by Murphy (oddly, the only number cut from the movie).

    Maroney has assembled a top-notch cast and keeps the play moving at a brisk pace.  The well-respected Childs delivers the rousing score well, without over running the singers.  Tucker has a great moment with the Crapshooters’ Ballet.  Ryan J. Moller sparks up the show with colorful, period costumes and The Music And Theatre Company provide the traditional scenery, which aids the play greatly.

    I recommend this play.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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