TRI VALLEY REP RETURNS TO PLEASANTON AS
THEIR RESIDENT THEATRE COMPANY.
Saints and sinners toss the dice and sing hit songs “Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat” and “Luck Be A Lady” this fall at Tri Valley’s delightful production of GUYS AND DOLLS. The romping dice game brings Tri Valley back to their original home of Pleasanton Calif, but now as the resident company at the Firehouse Arts Center. The dice roll through November 18th on the Pleasanton stage. TVR’s former home was down the street at Amador High and now they share two stages Livermore’s Bankhead and the quaint Firehouse stage. “This is Tri-Valley Rep's first show as the City of Pleasanton's resident theater company, and it is so exciting to be part of their inaugural production,” says cast member Morgan Stinson.
GUYS AND DOLLS first opened on Broadway in 1950 and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Choreography and Best Actor. This TVR DOLLS is directed by Producer Kathleen Breedveld, and local favorite Brian Olkowski; they both bring a wealth of experience to this classic musical. Breedveld says “(I’m) thrilled to be directing and producing this musical theatre gem, and, on top of that honor, to be working with some of the most talented Bay Area actors and musicians.” Co-director Olkowski says “I’m very excited to be at the Firehouse with Tri Valley Rep, I loved collaborating with this talented cast and crew.” This is the first time Tri Valley has staged a musical at the Firehouse Center for the Arts. TVR Publicist Debbie Gluckman says “we have added another venue and we are very thrilled about it. We are blessed to be performing in two fantastic locations. Each is a little different and allows for different types of productions."
Set in 1940’s Manhattan stuffed with gangsters with names like Harry the Horse, Big Jule and Angie the Ox all come to gamble. GUYS AND DOLLS tells the tale of Nathan Detroit, played by the terrific Robert Lopez a guy who needs a venue for his “permanently established floating crap game.” I know if you are a theatre fan you have seen this “crap game” a few times, so I won’t share much about the story. This cast is charming and along the way you are treated to some of composer Frank Loesser’s most memorable Broadway tunes, including “Adelaide’s Lament,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” and the show-stopping “Crapshooter’s Dance”.
Choreographer Kelly Krauss Cooper does a classic take on the Frank Loesser opening gangster city ballet of sorts called “Runonland” that features most of the 24 member cast. With the icon Boxer and Nun making their usual appearance, the number ends with the three featured gangsters Nicely-Nicely, Benny, and Rusty played by the dapper John Orenberg, Ron Houk the swaggering Matt Kelley. The three sing “Fugue for Tinhorns” as they play the numbers and place bets outside a news stand.
Nathan’s best venue has just fallen through and he needs fast money so he turns to snazzy Sky Masterson, a high roller who will bet on anything, if the stakes are high enough. The marvelous Noel Anthony steals the stage as Sky and his first number “I’ll Know” he sings with the pitch perfect Rachel Powers who plays his date, Sarah Brown, who runs the Save A Soul Mission. Powers and Anthony make the perfect at odds love story, their on stage timing has a strong rapport, keeping the laughter flowing and touching aspects of the pair’s comically mismatched love story. They sing “Havana” with the company and have elegant solos “If I Were a Bell? And “My Time of Day” their voices fill the Firehouse Theatre with polished style.
The ever popular Morgan Stinson is Nathan Detroit’s 14-year fiancé, nightclub hottie, Miss Adelaide. She is the ultimate classy, sassy doll, belting out renditions of “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Take Back Your Mink,” backed by a bevy of sensational Hot Box girls. Her timing is classic, crushing a standout performance of “Sue Me”. Stinson seems absolutely made for the role of Adelaide and squeaky voiced epic marital chase with Nathan has given her a permanent case of the sniffles. She earns some of the show’s best laughs, particularly in the second act she sings “Adelaide’s Lament”.
Jim Rupp adds to the sweetness of the production as Sarah’s grandfather, Arvide Abernathy, delivering a touching rendition of “More I Cannot Wish You.” There are plenty of colorful characters to keep the smiles constant in this production. Lopez, Orenberg, and Houk are endless sources of entertainment as Nathan Detroit’s gambling associates. The talented trio are a marvel to watch as they dance their way through the icon song “Guys and Dolls,” and the floating crap game. It’s got those can’t-miss songs “Luck Be a Lady,” “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” “Sue Me” and a hit book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, based on Damon Runyon’s sharp, street-wise stories.
Sunil Haraini is in a cranky mode as the cop Lt. Hannigan; local favorite Ali Lane has a winning presence as the stern mission boss Gen. Cartwright. Some other classic gamblers include the clever AJ Amstrup as “Big Jule” the lively Matt Kelly as the thug Harry the Horse and the dapper Kurt Hornbacker as Angie the Ox.
Choreographer Kelly Krauss Cooper’s “Havana’ and “Crapshooter’s Dance” sequences are rousing, boosted by the rich big band sound of music director Sierra Dee’s orchestra and Karl Haller’s sound design. Costume coordinator Marcy Bowie brought a lot of color to her choices of the Hot Box Girls and the mens eye candy jackets, complemented by Erica Engel’s lighting on Lee Patrick Hendrickson’s neon comic book set. Yet I was missing the use of a stage and glitter curtains for the Hot Box Club, Hendrickson kept the set flat. The hit number “A Bushel and Peck” still popped out with all this 40’s glam featuring the high stepping Jillian Abney, Heidi Amstrup, Katherine Mathers, Michelle Roque and the sweet steps of Sarah Schori.
Prop team Joan Brown, Mary Kay Stevenson and Breedveld bring all the instruments for the Mission Band, including Dice, Bibles, and loads of food for Nicely Nicely to eat for each of his scenes. Stage Managers Jess Hutchins and Jeannie Jennings kept the 25 cast members on cue and the comic book set flowing well. One of the few off notes to the show is the uneven way some cast members handle the mouthy, Runyon-inspired New Yahwk sound. That, and the occasionally “ME TOO’ out dates - many of the classic musicals cringe with the new sexual politics that Tri Valley, Center Rep, Bay Area Musicals, Contra Costa Musicals and others can only do so much to dance around. The ensemble include some great dancing and one liners from the dapper Jason Cisler, and Dominic Tracy. New Yorkers, judges, fighters and gamblers include the keen Taylor Hickricks, Deborah Lowder, Will Mattingly, and Carrie Menafee.
Under the direction of co-directors Breedveld and Olkowski and musical director Sirra Dee this rendition of “Guys and Dolls” is a sure bet. Yet as familiar as “Dolls” maybe by now, Tri Valley Rep’s colorful production proves a fun trip back to the historic “crap game” from just about any angle. Next up at Tri Valley is HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME that opens this winter Jan 12th. The joyful SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE opens next spring April 27th. But in the meantime it's time to bring your dice and and be part of Broadway's best floating crap game.
Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre Presents:
GUYS AND DOLLS
Music by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Ave Burrows
Directors: Kathleen Breedveld and Brian Olkowski
Musical Director: Sierra Dee
Choreography: Kelly Krauss Cooper
Must Close November 18, 2018
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm
Rated Family Friendly
Two Hours and 30 min with an intermission
PERFORMED AT THE FIREHOUSE ARTS CENTER
4444 Railroad Avenue, Pleasanton, CA
Cast quotes courtesy of https://pleasantonweekly.com
Sky Masterson: Noel Anthony*Sarah Brown: Rachel Powers, Nathan Detroit: Robert Lopez, Miss Adelaide: Morgan Stinson, Nicely-Nicely Johnson: Johnny Orenberg, Benny Southstreet: Ron Houk Rusty -Harry the Horse: Matthew Kelly, Arvide Abernathy: Jim Rupp, Lt. Hannigan: Sunil Haraini, Big Jule: AJ Amstrup, General Cartwright: Martie Muldoon, Agatha: Martha McDowell, Angie the Ox: Kurt Hornbacker (Joey Biltmore), Hotbox Girls: Jillian Abney (Mimi), Heidi Amstrup, Katherine Mathers, Michelle Roque, Sarah Schori, Ensemble: Jason Cisler, Taylor Hendricks (Waiter), Justin Hernandez (Master of Ceremonies), Deborah Lowder, Will Mattingly