PHOTO: From left, Parker Drew, Sallie Harrigan, Cassidy Heim-Dittmer and Chad Lemerande are featured in the Music Theatre of St. Norbert College production of “Guys and Dolls.” Music Theatre photo
Time flips to 60 or 70 or 80-something years ago on the bustling streets of
Creative: From stories and characters of Damon Runyon: Music and lyrics – Frank Loesser; book – Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows; director – James P. Birder; producer/musical director – Dudley Birder; scenic design – Corey Allan Pinchart; light design – Jack Rhymer; choreographer – Alicia Birder; sound design – Chris Gabryszek; costume design – Tricia Adams; hair/make-up design – Lois Gegare; stage manager – Monique Dalley; property master – Jeffrey Paul Entwistle; technical director – Corey Allan Pinchart.
Cast: Sky Masterson – Chad Lemerande; Sarah Brown – Cassidy Heim-Dittmer, Sarah Brown; Nathan Detroit – Parker Drew; Miss Adelaide – Sally Harrigan; Nicely-Nicely Johnson – Darren Johnson; Big Jule – Mark A. Jackson; Benny Southstreet – Michael Bauer; Rusty Charlie – James Marker; Harry The Horse – Sean Gibbons; Arvide Abernathy – Charles Hagen; Lt. Brannigan – Warren Elliott; Martha – Kasara Sinkula; Agatha – Heidi A. Schmitz; Clara – Melissa Terrell; Edna – Haley Marks; Angie the Ox – Mitch Jossart; Drunk – Ian Wisneski; Joey Biltmore – Warren Elliott; Hot Box Emcee – Sergio L. Heredia; General Matilda B. Cartwright – April Rose Strom-Johnson; Hot Box Waitresses – Kasara Sinkula, Melissa Terrell; Guys – Mitch Jossart, Sergio L. Heredia, Everett John Berchmans, AJ Gannon, Sam Van Beek, Michael Jacobs, Nicolas Desotell, Ian Wisneski, Sean Gibbons, Ethan Larsen, Devon Caelwaerts, James Marker; Dolls – Katie Bauer, Micki Berkshire, Mallory Fuhrman, Jessie Heesacker; Hot Box Dancers – Ana Lissa Bakken, Hannah K. Blecha, Maddie Budner, Ava Masias, Rebecca Schaberg, Michelle Oren; Havana Dancers Cubanos – Ana Lissa Bakken, Nicolas Desotell, Michael Jacobs, Ava Masias; Corps – Hanna K. Blecha, Maddie Budner, Michelle Oren, Rebecca Schaberg.
Overture/“Runyonland” – Orchestra
“Fugue for Tinhorns” – Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet, Rusty Charlie
“Follow the Fold” – Sarah Brown, Arvide Abernathy,
“The Oldest Established” – Nathan Detroit, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet, Craps Shooters
“I’ll Know” – Sarah Brown, Sky Masterson
“A Bushel and a Peck” – Miss Adelaide, Hot Box Dolls
“Guys and Dolls” – Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet
“If I Were a
“My Time of Day” – Sky Masterson
“I’ve Never Been in Love Before” – Sky Masterson, Sarah Brown
“Take Back Your Mink” – Miss
“More I Cannot Wish You” – Arvide Abernathy
“Crapshooter’s Ballet” – Orchestra
“Luck Be a Lady” – Sky Masterson, Craps Shooters
“Sue Me” – Miss
“Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” – Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Ensemble
“Marry the Man Today” – Miss
“Guys and Dolls” (Reprise) – Ensemble
The show has lasting spunk.
Juicy roles and songs abound – which is right in the wheelhouse of director James P. Birder and musical director Dudley Birder.
Two romantic stories run side by side. The main one is which ever happens to be up on the stage at the time:
- Oil and water: A high-rolling gambler, Sky Masterson (Chad Lemerande), makes a play for a Salvation Army preacher, Sarah Brown (Cassidy Heim-Dittmer), for the sake of a bet. Pure romance fills their songs together (“I’ll Know,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”) and separately (Sarah’s “If I Were a
- Comic capers: A wheeler-dealer gambler, Nathan Detroit (Parker Drew), is perpetually engaged to nightclub star Miss Adelaide (Sallie Harrigan). These are two of the greatest leading character roles in musical theater, and Drew and Harrigan play them to the hilt. Nathan is in constant trouble, stepping one step ahead of the law and one half-step ahead of Miss Adelaide’s desire to get married. Harrigan mines the comic riches of “
The story opens with sizzle, following scampering on
The production has lots of life all around – the flash of the Hot Box dancers, the spiritual charge of the Save-A-Soul Mission and the fired-up song “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” the roughhouse comedy of the Gambler crew and comically threatening Big Jule (Mark A. Jackson), the spice of flying off to Cuba (in a day when it was possible for Americans to do that), the turn of the strait-laced Sarah to naively getting tipsy and the verve of the title tune delivered by Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet, among other touches.
Interest-catching moments include a physical flash to “thank you” when spoken by Darren Johnson as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, ringing notes of Cassidy Heim-Dittmer as Sarah Brown and the consummate attention to comic detail (over and over) by Parker Drew as Nathan Detroit.
Among community theaters in the region, Music Theatre has a definition of its own – “community,” yes, but with jolts of professionalism in the production corps and casts. Experience? Chad Lemerande has performed abundant leading roles, and it shows in his Sky Masterson. James P. Birder burrows into characters as director, and that shows in his shows. Dudley Birder has been the heart and soul of all 92 productions (92!) and continues in the thick of the action in each performance directing in the orchestra pit. The name Music Theatre brings a certain expectation, and it’s delivered in “Guys and Dolls.”
VENUE: The 725-seat
THE PERSON: Byron L. Walter (1877-1954) was a businessman. He operated Green Bay Hardware, Inc. until his retirement in 1953. Walter was co-founder of Paper Converting Machine Co. and for a time served as president. After his death, the Byron L. Walter Family Trust was established, and it made possible the theater. The trust continues to make widespread contributions to community projects and institutions.
You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV between 6 and 8 a.m. Sundays. There will be an on-air review of “Guys and Dolls” this Sunday, July 27.