The summer series will also stage Phillip Canville’s “Auction Gallery” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” All three shows are directed by Steve Kinsella of the Brentwood Playhouse and the Kinsella Theater Group and are sponsored by the Brentwood Art Society and The Streets of Brentwood.
“There’s a lot of heart between me and ‘Guys and Dolls,’” Kinsella said about his choice to include the musical in the series’ lineup. “But another reason was that for the last 15 years consecutively, ‘Guys and Dolls’ has been one of the top five musical theater shows in America, and we knew that its name recognition would draw people to this inaugural season.”
A canopy of stars complemented the dialogue onstage, the music from the pit and the laughter from the audience as Loesser’s story of gambling, love and Broadway commenced. The opening scene exploded with the glitz of New York City in the ’40s as cast members portrayed a busy night on Times Square before gamblers Nicely-Nicely Johnson (played by Ron Pickett), Benny Southstreet (played by Ross Bronzan), and Rusty Charlie (played by John Baczenas) emerged and argued over the horse races.
The subsequent scenes introduced gamblers Sky Masterson (played by Dan Roldan) and Nathan Detroit, a guy with a fear of commitment (played by Chris Fallows). Adding a dash of feminine glamorize was Sarah Brown, a leader of the local mission (played by Laurie Kinsella), and cabaret favorite Miss Adelaide (played by Terry Darcy D’Midio).
With the entrance of each character came a new set of predicaments – the gamblers needed a place to play craps, a threat to close Sarah Brown’s mission put her goal to convert sinners in jeopardy, Adelaide’s desire to tie the knot with Detroit was thwarted by his gambling obsession, and Masterson’s need to win a bet against Detroit required him to convince Brown to join him in Havana. A flurry of altercations, songs and dice rolls accompanied the action onstage throughout the story.
“It’s got fun music, it’s got fun dance, it’s just a lively musical,” Pickett said about the show. “It’s one of the oldie goldies.”
“I’ve never been in this play before,” Fallows said, but “I’ve always been a fan of it, even back when I was a kid watching the movie with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.”
“It has something for everybody and it’s just a great family, all-around musical,” Laurie Kinsella said. “It’s one of the most classic shows ever written.”
The diverse audience proved her point. Theatergoers ranging from those who can’t pronounce the show’s title to those who remember the 1940s fondly enjoyed the show from rows of chairs set up in front of the saddlespan stage.
Actors and audience members alike expressed appreciation for the cultural impact made by the Broadway Under the Stars series. “I’m so happy we finally have this in Brentwood. It’s a good cultural thing for Brentwood because they haven’t had a community theater for a while, but we’re bringing it back,” Laurie Kinsella said. “It’s good for kids nowadays that watch so much TV, and they haven’t had the experience of live theater rather than TV.”
Audience member Deborah Allison echoed Kinsella’s sentiment. “It’s a great play and the characters are doing a fabulous job; they just light up the stage,” she said. “I like that it’s right here in Brentwood, and we have theater here for our community. It’s a fun way to spend a summer evening.”
“Guys and Dolls” runs through Aug. 1 and is followed by “Auction Gallery” (Aug. 13-29) and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (Sept. 10-26). The Brentwood Playhouse troupe performs at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the duration of each show. Tickets are $17 for general admission; $15 for seniors and students. Call 925-516-8500, ext. 203 to reserve tickets for upcoming performances.