.A Sure Bet

6th Street's got the cure for SRT blues

If you’ve missed having Summer Repertory Theatre around this year, SRT artistic director James Newman helms 6th Street Playhouse’s production of Guys and Dolls. The 1950 musical about colorful New York gamblers trying to avoid the police, a persistent fiancée and the goodly influence of local missionaries runs through Oct. 14.

Nathan Detroit (Ariel Zuckerman) runs the “oldest, established, permanent floating crap game in New York,” but police pressure is making it difficult to find places to house it. The only willing host wants a thousand bucks, which Nathan ain’t got. When word gets out that big-time gambler Sky Masterson (Ezra Hernandez) is in town, Nathan figures he can finance his game by getting him to make a sucker-bet that Nathan can’t lose. Nathan bets Sky he’ll be unable to get Sarah Brown (Elenor Paul), the leader of the newly opened Save-a-Soul Mission, to go away with him for an evening.

While Sky goes about winning the bet (and falling in love, of course), Nathan scurries about trying to get the game going while avoiding the matrimonial pressure of his fiancée of 14 years, Adelaide (Ella Park.) Trouble comes to town in the form of gun-toting Chicago gambler Big Jule (Carl Kraines) and General Cartwright (Laura Davies), who wants to close the mission. Things work out for everyone after about a dozen or so Frank Loesser tunes and dance numbers.

Perhaps the most SRT-like aspect of this production is its youthful cast. It’s chock-full of SRJC theater arts and high school grads mixed in with some stage vets. The casting leads to some significant age issues with the characters as written. Apparently, Miss Adelaide has been engaged since age six, and there’s something a little unsettling about a teenage Harry the Horse (Benjamin Donner) roughing up senior citizen Big Jule.

Thankfully, the talent onstage can get you past that issue. Zuckerman brings a legitimate New York vibe to his character, and Hernandez has the cockiness requisite for Sky. The character arc for Sarah Brown isn’t particularly believable, but Paul makes it work. Park is an absolute delight as Adelaide, and “Adelaide’s Lament” is a show highlight.

The shows other highlights include Randy Nazarian’s terrific work as Nicely Nicely Johnson and the show-stopping “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” production number.

If you enjoy well-crafted productions of classic American musicals, it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy Guys and Dolls.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½


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