All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Roll your dice, grab your gal, and get ready for a good time, because Washington-Lee High School invites you to Runyonland for their smashing performance of Guys and Dolls.
Guys and Dolls is a musical with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The show centers around gamblers Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit, and their two love interests, missionary Sarah Brown, and hot box dancer Miss Adelaide. Sarah and her Mission come to a sinful town of drunks and gamblers in an attempt to save their souls from the devil. Nathan, in order to fund his next crap game and to avoid marrying his impatient fourteen-year fiancée Adelaide, bets Sky that he can’t take Sarah out to Havana that night. However, to everyone’s surprise, the gambler and the missionary fall in love, and disaster and hilarity ensue in a musical comedy full of deceit, trickery, romance, and show-stopping numbers.
Guys and Dolls has been used in high school theater almost to the point of a cliché, but what truly stood out in this particular production was their work together as an ensemble. When a show like this, with four very clear leads, is put on, it is easy for the more minor characters to sink back a bit and become somewhat forgettable, but this was not at all the case with the ensemble members at Washington-Lee. All of the ensemble members, especially the crapshooters, successfully made their own characters, and if you ever took your eyes off the lead performers, you would find them completely engaged in whatever their character was doing. Vocally, the cast also blended very well together, with tight, in tune harmonies that are often lost in high school productions.
All this talk of the ensemble is certainly not to say that the four leads didn’t shine; they certainly did. Michael Gaines (Sky Masterson) immediately set himself apart from the moment he walked onstage as the cool, suave, iconic gambler that audiences have come to know and love. Jeffrey Warren also did a fabulous acting job, pulling off one of the funniest and most engaging Nathan Detroit’s I have ever seen. His lovely crooner voice also came as a pleasant surprise in “Sue Me.” Betsy Yuhas combined hilarious line delivery with a big, belty voice to make an immensely entertaining Adelaide. However, the true standout of the cast was Alicia Hartz as Sarah Brown. Hartz proved herself a true triple threat, with hilarious comedic delivery, a gorgeous jazzy voice that set her apart from the classic operatic Sarahs, and fantastic dancing chops that she was able to show off in the Havana scene and in “Luck Be A Lady.” An enjoyable aspect of the leads’ performances was that the chemistry between the two couples was very maturely established, without some of the awkwardness that often comes with high school actors. Vocally, everyone’s voice fit the character that they were playing almost perfectly, adding to the palpability of the production.
Technically, the show was well above average for a high school production. One could hardly tell that the cast was using mics, because the sound rang purely with almost no feedback or intrusive noise. Also, all of the lighting cues were on time, and kept the show at a good pace. The orchestra was also generally very impressive.
Overall, Washington-Lee High School made this classic show their own, setting it apart in the best way possible.