‘Guys and Dolls’ a smash hit at the Milford Theater

Milford. The next showing will be May 17 at 8 p.m.

| 13 May 2024 | 02:27

The Milford Theater enjoyed a full house for its first showing of “Guys and Dolls,” which has three additional performances slated for this coming weekend. The audience went wild. It was as if Broadway came to Milford. “Absolutely fabulous,” commented former NYC resident Pat Groll. “You don’t have to go to New York City to have a great time. It’s the best thing that happened that they reopened this theater. We always used to run to the theater on Broadway and we miss it, but this is as close as you can get to it. The talent is amazing.”

Raymond Groll, Pat’s husband added, “It’s good for the town, and good for the people, the merchants, and the restaurants.”

Many people in the audience were thrilled with how professional the cast was. Suzanne Braun Levine echoed that sentiment. “It was very professional and lots of fun; the direction, the dancing, the singing couldn’t have been better,” she said.

“Guys and Dolls” is a musical romantic comedy, based on the story and characters by Damon Runyon. It celebrated the seamy world of Broadway that grew out of the prohibition era. It was produced in 1950 with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling.

It’s about a high-rolling gambler, Sky Masterson (Taylor James); a puritanical missionary from the Salvation Army, Sarah Brown (Mackenzie Maula); a showgirl dreaming of a house in the country with a picket fence, Miss Adelaide (Annalee Marine Paige); and her fiancée of 14 years who’d rather eat dirt than get married, Nathan Detroit; plus the craps game organizer played by Kelly Krieger.

The original show had 1,200 performances and won a Tony in 1955. It was fascinating that, for the most part, the show holds up today. Even though the entire cast was not yet born in the era of the play, they were amazingly adept at bringing that era to life. They not only played the role of their respective characters, they became those characters. This was as true of the ensemble, as well as the leads. They also mastered the New York City accent pretty well — a Damon Runyon trademark.

One could see the fine work of Director Angel Berlane Mulcahy and the incredible number of daily rehearsals.

Their singing voices were first rate — especially Maula and Paige. The duets had some difficult harmony and the actors pulled it off beautifully. Sally Hendee who played Arvide Abernathy and Kris Tjornhom, who was Nicely-Nicely Johnson, carried off their solos without a hitch, and of course Kelly Krieger and Taylor James showed very strong voices. Alvera Sylvester, the musical director, helped make that happen. Beth O’Neil, the theater’s artistic director, said, “Taylor James is a stellar lead. He’s bringing his hard work and charm to every single scene of this show and Milford will be on their feet watching him in a musical!”

One of the most intriguing aspects of the play was the choreography. The way the actors moved was not haphazard, but under the brilliant direction of the talented choreographer Joseph Ambrosia. One example of this was a scene where the gamblers were playing craps on the street. The movements, and the action were almost like a ballet.

Many of the songs in the show are recognizable, such as “If I were a bell,” “I’ve never been in love before,” “Luck be a Lady,” “Bushel and a Peck,” and “Sue Me.” Carol Needleman said, “I warned all the people around me that I would be singing” — and she did!

Beth O’Neil pointed out that she “chose this show because it plays to all ages. It’s a family show with great production value from the set to the singing.”

The audience expressed their agreement by giving the cast a standing ovation, and they walked out of the theater smiling and singing.

Tickets are available for performances on May 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. and May 19 at 2 p.m. at bit.ly/44lYga7. The Milford Theater is located at 114 East Catherine St., Milford.