Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guys and Dolls Makes Nice Musical Nostalgia

A few weeks ago, I caught the new revival of Guys and Dolls on its last day of previews. Now, I'm no theater critic, as should be obvious by my disagreeing with the mostly negative reviews the show has gotten. Is it one of the best productions of Guys and Dolls ever done? Of course not. But that doesn't keep it from being thoroughly entertaining from start to end.

You see, unlike many recent revivals, Guys and Dolls doesn't do much to try to spice up its source (don't expect any actors playing instruments a la Sweeney Todd). But when it comes to a classic like Guys and Dolls, I'd say that's a good thing. Having grown up listening to all of the show's many famous songs, I had the pleasure of reexperiencing music I hadn't thought about in years. And I'm sure as a kid I didn't realize just how funny the show is, which needed no modernization to keep getting laughs.

Of course, what makes this revival of particular interest is the Broadway debut of Lauren Graham, perhaps better known as Lorelai Gilmore. If you're going just to see her, you won't be disappointed. With her known comic timing and unexpectedly good voice, she's one of the show's stand-outs. Craig Bierko as well brings the charm and charisma necessary for Sky Masterson.

I wish I could say the same for Oliver Platt as Nathan Detroit, who's always on theatrical mode and never seems quite comfortable in the part. And a computerized backdrop was definitely a bad idea. But Guys and Dolls is the kind of classic worth revisiting from time to time, and this revival makes a great argument for doing so.

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