REVIEW – GUYS AND DOLLS – SOUTH BAY MUSICAL THEATRE

Guys and Dolls is a musical standard. It’s a show with a cheesy plot devised of equal parts heart and humor. It’s not particularly scandalous in any way and despite being in part about gamblers, the show is clean, sweet, and in a word, fun. The characters all have hearts of gold and I’m not spoiling anything by telling you, the happy ending you see coming from the first scene, doesn’t disappoint. South Bay Musical Theatre embraces the fun of this show and they clearly have fun doing it.
This cast is…experienced…in life. If you’re looking for dashing young gangsters in their 20’s and 30’s, this isn’t your show. Looking for hot young things playing the Hot Box Girls? You won’t find many here. But, I don’t mean that to sound like a bad thing, just against type, which once you get over it, it doesn’t prove to be a big deal. The women filing the hot box roles are mostly older, but they work it. They wear their modest yet sexy burlesque outfits with pride and confidence and for the most part they win you over. They have their dance steps down and smile while doing them and that all you can ask for, right?
Our Sky Masterson was a very gentle interpretation I’d say. I didn’t personally buy a sly, sharp, competitive gambler in the early scenes, but I was charmed by the romantic side of the character later on. The choices made by Miss Adelaide, though not terribly original or unpredictable by any stretch of the imagination, were however comedic bull’s-eyes and crowd-pleasing for sure. Nathan and the rest of the gamblers were high-energy and held their own in the acting department. Singing–wise, nothing stood out but it wasn’t lacking really either. The standouts for me vocally were Sarah Brown and a top-notch performance from the actor bringing sincere depth and sincerity to Arvide Abernathy.
Indeed this is a cast of colorful characters, literally. Bright color abounds in the set and costume which are fun and happy, but if you’re looking for a period piece, this is not your show. Fabrics are modern in texture, form and hue and in many cases captured the spirit of the piece, not necessarily the era.
Opening night the orchestra seemed a bit nervous and the notes didn’t all get hit, but overall an on tempo and balanced sound. Do note that the first three rows of the audience for this performance serve as the pit and you will want to sit center of the house for the best visual and audio experience. I’m always a bit chilly in this theatre, and for 3 hours you may be more comfortable in layers.
I’ve seen many other productions of Guys and Dolls. I’ve seen better. I’ve also seen ones that totally missed the mark. Although this production is not perfect,  it is fun and it will likely brighten your day to see actors having a fabulous time delivering punch lines and singing their hearts out. 3 jewels out of 5 in the royal review tiara for a show that is hard not to like no matter what. Guys and Dolls plays through June 9th at the Saratoga Civic Theater in Saratoga.

Dinner Theatre Pairing: Saratoga is not lacking in fine dining to be sure, but sometimes it’s hard to justify the price of a really upscale restaurant if you aren’t with a special someone. The good news is there are plenty of middle of the road dining options in Saratoga that are good and won’t break the bank whether you are with a group, or flying solo.  I hadn’t had Thai food in a while so I looked around for a nearby place to satisfy my craving. I ended up at the Mint Leaf Cuisine less than 2 miles from the saratoga civic theatre. I got there a bit early, so parking wasn’t a problem, but I suspect the closer you get to 6:30pm on the weekend, the harder you have finding a spot.

Aside from the most beautiful wood carved menu I’ve seen, by far the highlight of the night was the Saratoga Curry Puffs, a curry chicken and  potato stuffed pastry in a delicious thick, peanut sauce served with cucumber salad which you could easily make into a meal in itself. The curry puff presentation was particularly unique as well, four separate super cute little boats! The fried salmon nori  appetizer was more of an acquired taste, though not bad, just a bit of a let down after the amazing curry puffs. I opted for the toasted coconut shrimp  salad for my main course which came on a bed of spinach with lime cubes, fresh ginger, and citrus vinaigrette. The flavors were strong and textures odd, but the shrimp were delicious and overall, although I had to think about it a bit, I enjoyed it. A very interesting meal, worth a second visit I feel to get a sense of the other possible hidden menu gems. If I wereto go again, I might order another appetizer (they looked great at the table next to me) instead a of  salad or main, but the menu choices are plentiful and the atmosphere warm and pleasant.

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