“Guys and Dolls” Review

My take on CSU’s performance of a classic musical

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 This past Friday of Sept. 28, 2018, the classic musical, “Guys and Dolls” opened on the mainstage of Columbus State University’s Riverside Theatre Complex for a two-weekend run.

Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical 1950s New York (or “Runyonland,” as the first song sequence is duly named), “Guys and Dolls” tells a story of gamblers, showgirls, and missionaries. This timeless romantic-comedy musical recounts the tale of gamblers, Nathan Detroit, and Sky Masterson as they deal with love, the law, and organized religion in a fast-paced, crap-shooting, run-around world.

At pre-show, the house music was already doing a good job of setting the mood for the show to come; the use of 40s and 50s chart-toppers proved truly effective. The overture began, and we were immediately transported to the world of the play. Within the first few minutes, the ensemble and orchestra together set the tone for a great show. With excellent comedic timing, strong connections, and a plethora of toe-tapping numbers such as “Luck Be A Lady” and “Sit Down (You’re Rocking The Boat)” performed by a high energy ensemble of performers, the show kept audiences either dancing in their seats or on the edge of their seats from the side-splitting laughter. It should also be mentioned that the cast was always actively doing something on stage, and each person was specific in their doing so. It allows for a very natural performance (natural in the sense that it was honest and true to life, which is refreshing for theatre viewers).

If I could describe the scenery in two words, they would be “smart and effective.” The environment on stage was created by a series of elaborately detailed backdrops, complemented by an array of moveable set pieces (a wise choice considering the amount of movement and the size of the cast). The scene changes, themselves seemed much like those of a film in that they flowed together seamlessly; swift and efficient, the well-qualified stagehands caused for smooth transitions throughout (even doing so in a manner that I feel added to the plot effortlessly). Overall, I would say that the production value was that of Broadway for half the price of admission (a job well done, indeed).

It’s not often that someone can walk away from a night of musical theatre and say, “Wow! What a hit!” Well, luckily, CSU’s production of “Guys and Dolls” has hit a home run. This performance is truly one for the books and has raised expectations even higher for the already exceptional theater company. With excellent direction by Professor Brenda May Ito, stunning choreography by new dance professor Amy Taylor, and a brilliantly talented cast (accompanied by some of the finest musicians from our very own Schwob School of Music), there is truly never a dull moment. “Guys and Dolls” will continue to run next weekend from Oct. 4 through Oct. 6. Get tickets while they last.