Reviewed by Amy M. Frateo
Edited by Sue Parker
Genesis Repertory – known for its innovative reworking of the classics – came together with Brooklyn Association of the Performing Arts to give Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge the golden age of Broadway by doing justice to Frank Loesser’s Guys & Dolls. Paying what you would have probably paid in 1950 when the show first opened, the audience was treated to amazing talent and great music, even a concession stand that comes to you!
The musical, combining the works of Damon Runyon, gives us two love stories. Sky Masterson (John Stillwaggon) and Sister Sarah Brown (Carolyn Dellinger) and the comic turns of Miss Adelaide (Kelly Petlin) and Nathan Detroit (Michael Whelan). The leading ladies were truly praiseworthy: Carolyn Dellinger was in perfect voice and exuded such charisma while Kelly Petlin commanded the stage with every line. The leading men were familiar faces: John Stillwaggon proves his versatility with a bravura performance as Hamlet last year at Genesis and now displays a proud set of pipes as Sky, while Michael Whelan, leading member of Staten Island’s HFP Players, brought in a Nathan Detroit loaded with humor and abundant charm.
Along the way, we meet a kaleidoscope characters right off a busy street in Times Square circa 60 years ago. Notables include TJ D’Angelo’s great performance as Benny Southstreet, Cynthia Granville touching as Sarah’s guardian, Robert Liebowitz very believable as an old-time gumshoe, Shaun S. Orbin as an hilarious crapshooting hood, and four Hot Box girls (Amanda Szymczak, Sarah Winchester, Erin Johnson, Nora Moutrane) whose flair for comedy turned two filler numbers into prime moments.
Jay Michaels directed the company to move at lightening speed yet filling each moment well. The ensemble members were unique personalities so even true devotees of the show had new images to enjoy. Eric K. Johnston gave us expert harmonies while Dustin Cross gave us high-kicks and lots of backsides. The sparse New York backdrop highlighted expert costuming by Mary Elizabeth MiCari and a photo montage by Christopher Sirota.
The Block Theater is intimate and out of the way but houses some of the best work you will see in Brooklyn. Guys & Dolls plays four more shows. Go.
Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Jay Paranada) leading the showstopper, “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat.”
Photo Credit R.J. Abbate.