This past Friday, I entered the fun, colorful, sinful world of Guys and Dolls at The Wilton Playshop in Wilton, Connecticut. It was a thoughtful and well-presented production of one of Broadway’s most classic musicals.
It’s clear that director Lynne Colatrella stayed true to Guys and Dolls’ roots; it was a reliable representation. Everyone indeed saw what they came to see! She did incorporate fun directorial choices that I hadn’t seen in previous productions of this show. For example, she had the characters ad-lib as they moved set pieces, therefore making the audience feel connected to the world throughout the entirety of the show. She also used fun visual elements that I hadn’t seen in previous productions, like bringing daydreams to life during monologues. Overall, she helped both the principles and the ensemble find unique, entertaining, and honest characters.
In terms of our four well-known principles, all of them were strong. Joe Colavito, who played Sky Masterson, performed the character in a way I’ve never seen the role played before: cheeky and sarcastic. However, he still maintained that classic charm and wit that everyone rightfully expects. Duane Lanham, our Nathan Detroit, is a man of many talents! He portrayed Nathan with a great sense of integrity; he maintained such natural comedic timing. Also, he was very light on his feet and very entertaining to watch. Jenna Colavito, Sarah Brown, portrayed the role with such a lovely mix of innocence and intelligence. It was clear that she did her homework and knew this character very well. Finally, Dany Rousseau was such a naturally sweet and charming Adelaide! She had impeccable comedic timing but still refrained from making the character into a caricature, which is so often done in this role. Overall, Colavito and Rousseau gave new depth to these classic female roles which, when played without proper thought, can come across as quite one dimensional.
The other principles were just as strong as our well-known four. Jacob Litt maintained the typical goofiness and likeability of Nicely-Nicely Johnson, while peppering the role with his strong and infectious singing voice. Phil Pineau played Benny Southstreet uniquely, he added a new flutteriness that I had never seen in this character, but I enjoyed it! It worked well! Kevin Kiley played Harry the Horse as a voice of reason, and I truly think that’s something those gamblers needed! It added a good balance and gave the gamblers some depth. Neil Leinwand was a blast to watch as Big Jule, he had such perfect comedic timing and really dedicated himself to the role! I also like how Sean Pultz depicted Lt. Brannigan as the “dumb cop,” it helped the audience understand the perspectives of the gamblers. Vic Sauerhoff was a truly relatable, honest Arvide; Sauerhoff made it so Arvide could have been anyone’s grandfather up there. I also love how he stayed true to Arvide’s Irish roots. Betty McCready, who played General Cartwright, did a fantastic job of adding likeability and depth to a typically antagonistic role. She gave Cartwright a palpable tenderness that I had never seen done in this role before.
The ensemble in this production was strong! The male ensemble was slick and dedicated, while the female ensemble nailed complicated and advanced choreography by Lauren Nicole Sherwood. Every member of the ensemble committed to such fun characters; it truly brought the world to life. From the missionaries to the Hot Box dancers to the gamblers, 1950s Times Square came to life on the Playshop stage. Even the band was so talented and soulful, music director Zachary Kampler ensured that the music and vocals stayed true to the original score.
To summarize, I would especially congratulate this show on its dedication. Everyone was so aware while they were on stage. It looked like everyone had a blast up there, too. As always, The Wilton Playshop has completed a successful season, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.