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Center Stage: Broadway Palm hits revived classic out of the park

By Staff | Feb 26, 2019

Marsha Wagner

When “Guys And Dolls” opened on Broadway on Nov. 24,1950 – that’s 59 years ago – it was dubbed “the perfect Broadway musical,” receiving seven rave reviews. It was also reviewed as a musical fable with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, book by Abe Burrows, based on Damon Runyon’s story “Miss Sarah Brown.” The show starred Robert Alda (father of Alan Alda), Vivian Blaine, and Sam Levenson. The choreography by Michael Kidd was the first time jazz dance was seen on the Broadway stage in the crap game number, “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.”

The Loesser score got big plays on juke boxes, radios, swing bands and night clubs across the United States. It was also called “New York’s own musical comedy – as bright as a dime in a subway grating, as smart as a sidewalk pigeon, as enchanting as the skyline, as new as the paper you’re holding.” This quote appeared in New York’s Daily News, as written in John Chapman’s theater review. To which I can only add, “Right on!”

Reviving a classic such as “Guys and Dolls” is always a crap shoot at best, but this sharp and fun 196th production currently playing at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre until March 30 comes up a winner, with direction by Paul Bernier and choreography by Amy Marie McCleary. This definitive production features Peter Riopelle as Nathan Detroit, who has returned to the Broadway Palm after some years in New York City; and Sarah Mae Banning playing Miss Adelaide, Nathan’s main squeeze and long-suffering fianc. Her version of “Adelaide’s Lament” brought down the house and was one of the high points of this neat production.

Some of the other standouts in this terrific show making their debuts at the Palm are Blair Baker as Miss Sarah Brown and Grayson Yockey as Sky Masterson. Baker, a soprano, may have a sweet voice but she is also a consummate actress, investing her rather sugary character with more than a healthy touch of vigor and spice. So, when teamed with baritone Yockey, musical magic happens with no lack of acting chemistry or vocal prowess in their musical duets.

When it comes to the high points in this show my vote goes to Palm favorite Victor Legarreta, playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Legarreta’s version of “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” blew it out of the water! Nice job, Nicely-Nicely.

In fact, the entire talented ensemble cast of this swell production are a triumph and a delight as they recreate Runyon’s kaleidoscopic world of mugs and molls, in this Broadway fable.

Now it’s up to you to “hop on the bus Gus,” and phone the Broadway Palm at 239-278-4422. Make that reservation for a fun evening “on the town.” Better hurry – betcha 10-to-1 this show sells out fast, since it only plays till March 30. Remember when you phone to remind ’em Marsha sent you.