Review “Guys and Dolls” (Light Opera Works): LIMITED ENGAGEMENT. BUY TICKETS NOW!

Sunday, December 27, 2015 Permalink
Light Opera Works 2015 at Cahn Auditorium

Light Opera Works 2015 at Cahn Auditorium

Light Opera Works presents GUYS AND DOLLS.

This Tony Award-winning musical is another present to unwrap this week! Big musical dance numbers are nestled alongside charming heart-warming duets. Catchy tunes crackle in this gamblers’ tale of romance and redemption.  It has not one but TWO love stories. In one corner, a nightclub performer (played by Sarah Larson) has been engaged to a floating craps dealer (played by Steve Silver) for fourteen years.  She wants a wedding.  He wants to get a piece of the action.   On the next block, unlikely sparks fly when a missionary (played by Elizabeth Telford) meets a high-roller (played by Justin Adair). She needs a mission full of sinners.  He needs to win a bet. These two rom-coms are a-roll-of-the-dice-away from the big payoff or snake-eyes.       

GUYS AND DOLLS is a heart-humming, toe-tapping, fun frolic! Because Frank Loesser’s music and lyrics have plenty of zippy cleverness, the musical would be successful as a modest production.  Despite only having eight performances of GUYS AND DOLLS, Light Opera Works still produces scintillating pageantry.  The look and sound is lavish.  From costumes (Brenda Winstead) to choreography (Clayton Cross), special attention has been paid to every detail.  As Telford and Adair chat over drinks in a Cuban cafe, the elaborately dressed ensemble is showcasing their Latin dance moves. Over at the Hot Box, Larson and her gals are kicking up intricate synchronicity to the audiences onstage and offstage.  Whether it’s a scene on, off or under the street, Director Rudy Hogenmiller ensures there are layers of characters and character in every moment and movement of this show.

While Hogenmiller keeps the visual vibrant, Conductor Shawn Stengel brings the rich sound.  Stengel leads a 24-person orchestra to make Loesser’s music soar.  The overture launches a nearly three hour musical powerhouse.  The songs are memorable for their harmonies and their humor.  The gamblers croon up hilarity in “The Oldest Established.”  Later, Cary Lovett (Nicely) and Jim Heatherly (Benny) talk smack about love in “Guys and Dolls.”  With heartfelt and hysterical sincerity, Lovett is commanding in the rousing “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.”

Each song looks at life from a unique perspective.  An outstanding Larson muses about her chronic cold and engagement in “Adelaide’s Lament.”  During “Sue Me,” Larson delivers plucky distinctiveness to Silver’s earnest love confession.  The comedic pairing is terrific.  Telford and Adair sing the more traditional love ballads in “I’ll know” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.”  Although I swooned over their duets, I fell harder for their solos.  In “If I were a Bell”, Telford goes from uptight missionary to playful flirt.  Her drastic transformation is delightfully magnetic.  The charismatic Adair belts out “Luck Be a Lady” while leaping into the air.  The number is an impressive show of physicality of him and his fellow crapshooters.  

GUYS AND DOLLS is sensational! The only bad part about it is its limited engagement. You have only ONE WEEK to see this jam-packed musical. Why should you see it? Because after seeing this uplifting show, this is how I felt…

Well, sir, all I can say
Is if I were a gate, I’d be swinging
And if I were a watch
I’d start popping my springs
Or if I were a bell
I’d go ding dong, ding dong ding                   

Running Time:  Two hours and fifty minutes with one intermission

At Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson in Evanston

Based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon

Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows

Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser

Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller

Choreographed by Clayton Cross

Conducted by Shawn Stengel

At 2pm December 27th, 30th and January 3rd

At 8pm December 31st, January 1st, 2nd    

Thru January 3rd

Buy Tickets at

For more reviews and information on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago. 


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