Schenectady Light Opera Company’s production of “Guys and Dolls” is a three-hour funfest. Don’t look for inner meanings or hidden intentions, just enjoy. Director Sev Moro has pulled together a cast of 34 actors and dancers who seem to be having as much fun with the show as their audience. Incidentally, the cast is uniformly good looking as well as talented.
Based on the stories and characters of Damon Runyon, the show is a bit gaudy to mainstream suburban sensibilities but ever so nice. If the stage gets a bit messy at times, what with the “Runyonland” gathering of nuns, beggars, a boxer and his trainer, tourists, street people, chorus girls and con men galore, it only adds to the excitement. And if the choreography is often clumsy and repetitive, one is inclined to happily forgive and forget and go on, with the cast, to the next glorious and completely memorable Frank Loesser song.
“Adelaide’s Lament” (“A person could develop ‘la grippe’ ”), “The Oldest Established” (“Permanent floating crap game in New York.”) and “Take Back Your Mink” are comic icons in American musical theater. And “I’ll Know” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” are love songs for the ages. The touching “More I Cannot Wish You” (not heard in the film) was beautifully sung by the reliable William M. Sanderson, playing Brother Arvide Abernathy, a missionary at the Save a Soul mission.
‘Guys and Dolls’
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through Sunday
HOW MUCH: $28-$22
MORE INFO: (877) 350-7378, www.sloctheater.org
Set in the heart of villainous New York City, there are plenty of souls to be saved. And Sister Sarah (Maggie Ecker) and her crew are doing their best among gamblers, liars, drunkards and thieves to convert the sinners — to bring them into the “fold,” one might say. It is not until she falls in love with one of them, quite unexpectedly in Cuba, that she despairs of her ability to walk the straight and narrow.
Souls to be saved
Sarah and her love, Sky Masterson, played with elegance by Andrew Elder Jr., are given some fine moments, both musical and comedic, in a bar in Havana. Ecker and Elder make the most of those moments as they discover they are falling hopelessly in love. I particularly enjoyed Elder’s enjoyment of Sarah’s “If I Were a Bell” after she’s had a few-too-many “milk shakes” flavored, naturally, with a bit of what is called “Bacardi.”
Michael A. Bellotti, playing the hapless Nathan Detroit, doesn’t get much of a chance to show off his gorgeous singing voice until nearly the end of the show when he teams up with Laura Tortorici-Malatesta, as Miss Adelaide in “Sue Me.” The number is worth the wait. Tortorici-Malatesta quite simply shines as the head chorus girl at the Hot Box night club, where she heads up a troupe of adorable “kittens.” (Sexist? Not really. The men are as objectified for their cunning as the women for their beauty.)
Others in a fine cast include Jeffrey P. Hocking, whose soaring voice can be heard in the ensemble numbers, and the adorable Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack, who plays General Cartwright with brilliant comic timing. But the actor who brought out the best of the Damon Runyon persona is Bill Depew as Harry the Horse. He never allowed a contraction to slip into his speech and he spoke consistently with a “gen-u-wine Noo Yawk” accent.