Stage veterans shine in 'Guys and Dolls'

Wednesday September 26, 07
by Bob Curtwright, The Wichita Eagle

Stage veterans shine in 'Guys and Dolls'
Special to The Eagle
The new production of "Guys and Dolls" that just opened the 31st season for Crown Uptown Professional Dinner Theatre is one of the best in the group's long history.

It's a happy marriage between a timeless show and perfect casting that brings Damon Runyon's quirky underworld denizens to life in all their absurd neon splendor.

Producer-director Ted Morris brings back one of his leads, Mark Clark, as devil-may-care gambler Sky Masterson, from 23 years ago. He also brings back Tim and Karen Robu from 13 years ago re-creating their roles as marriage-shy gambler Nathan Detroit and his singer girlfriend, Miss Adelaide, who is growing impatient after a 14-year engagement.

The newbie in the cast is Kim Dugger as Sky's antagonistic main squeeze, Sister Sarah Brown, the righteous leader of the Save-a-Soul Mission, who disapproves of everything Sky does but loves him anyway.

The four were in grand voice opening night to breathe new life into Frank Loesser's familiar tunes.

Dugger, longtime music director at Crown Uptown, could give you chills as she wound her clear soprano around Sarah's romantic ballads "I'll Know" and "I've Never Been in Love Before."

Clark's strong baritone paired well with Dugger in the ballads.

The Robus have developed an impeccable comic timing and musical sense that mesh beautifully.

Karen Robu as the rather naive, perhaps dim, but thoroughly determined Miss Adelaide, stole the show with her "Adelaide's Lament." She combined a baby-doll speaking voice with Mermanesque belting and, like the smart cookie she plays, carefully never took her character over the top.

But this is not just a top-heavy show. It's an ensemble where many of the secondary characters get brilliant showcases. Chief among them is Rejinald Woods as Nicely Nicely Johnson, who teams with Clay Boney and Chris Haulter to open the show with strong barbershop harmonies about picking a winning racehorse.