We've an embarrassment of riches in town the next couple of weekends. At the Community Center the Western Nevada College Production "Guys and Dolls" is a marvel of the traditional Broadway musical with a cast seemingly of thousands. Then at Brewery's Black Box Theatre there's the screwball comedy "Wonder of the World," with a fine cast of veterans wringing humor out of every scene. Both shows are good enough to merit a separate review, so we oblige.
'Guys and Dolls' is brash and bold, lots of great songs and dance
There are at least five leading actors in the 1950s musical "Guys and Dolls," all pivotal to the action. There's Katelyn Pennebaker as Sister Sarah and Leoney Berg as Sky Masterson - the romance side. Then there's Kirk Gardener as Nathan Detroit, craps game host, and Catherine Cook as Adelaide, showgirl and longtime fiancee of Nathan - romance with wit. And at last, Adam Whitney as Nicely- Nicely Johnson.
Plus supporting roles such as Patrick Hardy, always believable, as Sister Sarah's Salvation Army drum beater and singer of "More I Cannot Wish You," as tender as any song every to grace Broadway. And a dance troupe of 14, a pod of gamblers and the Salvation Army marching band.
From the opening number, "Fugue for Tinhorns," to the closer "Guys and Dolls," this show rockets along. Fine songs such as, "I'll Know," "Bushel and a Peck," "If I were a Bell," the very nicely plaintive "My Time of Day," "I've Never Been in Love Before," "Take Back Your Mink," "Luck Be a Lady Tonight," the touching "Sue Me," and finally "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" should all resonate with musical comedy lovers.
If there's a really high point to this show it's Whitney's "Rocking the Boat." The cast is loud and funny in facing Whitney's complaint and he is a totally ebullient, heartfelt revivalist. The scene alone is worth the ticket.
The leads are fine, with Pennebaker's operatic voice a power unto itself; Berg is content to sing a comfy tenor. Gardner is touching in "Sue Me," and Cook is a nuke alone as she dances, sings and wrings every laugh out of her part. She is like a natural force and lifts the show.
Direction by Stephanie Arrigotti is as tight as it can be considering the many demands of the book. Just playing traffic cop here must be bewildering and she also directs the fine orchestra. Then Gina Kaskie-Davis staged the many dance numbers with her usual élan and skills.
Frank Loessor wrote the music and lyrics and Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows the book.
"Guys and Dolls" runs weekends through Nov. 18. Not a weak actor in the show; hope the Community Center gets that new $80,000 light board in for the next show.
If you go
What: "Guys and Dolls"
Who: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company
Where: Carson City Community Center
When: Weekends Nov. 10-18. 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday and Nov. 17-18
Cost: $18 general, $16 students and seniors, $14 children 17 and younger
'Wonder of the World' is new generation of fast scenes, wicked humor
The Proscenium Players' production of "Wonder of the World" is the story (more or less) of Cass Harris finding out that her husband, Kip, is hiding a very dirty little secret, something about Barbie dolls. Don't ask, just wait.
That's pretty much what we said about the show after watching dress rehearsals. We erred in understatement. It's a very modern type of comedy, which snares the audience into the action in a casual way. While on the surface at times it seems to be merely madcap, the longer it goes on the more it demands a suspension of disbelief.
Cass finds Kip's secret and runs off to Niagara Falls in an effort to do all those things she has always meant to do, such as learning Swedish and having sex with a complete stranger (the old list of things to do before dying). She's on a trip of self-discovery, befriending a cynical, suicidal alcoholic, taking up with a widower tour-boat captain with a strange story of a fatality and a four-pound jar of peanut butter.
Kip's mystery is revealed in the first act, but there's a lot more to come, all presented in a slanted look at things.
"Wonder" confirms the author Lindsay-Abaire as a real talent with a madcap imagination and a gift for snappy dialogue.
Susan Lingelbach, a senior drama student at the University of Nevada, Reno, is Cass, and she offers a lot of clever mugging. She moves with wit.
Jeremy Zutter is her weird husband. She tries to erase him from reality and he's sufficiently hangdog to fit the role neatly.
Coleen Katen is a multi-role performer - the pilot, Jane, Barb and three waitresses. She's also a clown in an eye-shattering jumpsuit with fright wig. She's perfect in her brassy, boisterous command-mode.
Lois the alky is Lisa Bommarito, who does a fine scene with Cass in a barrel teetering on the edge of Niagara Falls. It's wake-up time for her and Cass.
Florence Phillips as Karla with veteran Dave Josten, both retirees, are a pair of private eyes sent by Rip to find Cass, and Jeff Whitt, another Players standby, is the captain of Maid of the Mist and the object of Cass' affections. Their scene in the pilot house of the Maid of the Mist gives Whitt a chance to play mock serious and Cass plenty of room for more mugging.
There is contemporary language used here, which suggests that you might want to leave the kiddies home. Not that they don't hear it every day, but this show might give them the idea that it's OK for them to use it in public.
"Wonder" is just what the name suggests, a wondering look at a funny world where things are just a little bit off center. Delightfully so.
If you go
What: "Wonder of the World" by the Proscenium Players
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Nov. 16-17 and 2 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 18
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Theatre at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St.
tickets: $12 general, $3 off for PPI & BAC members, seniors, & students
• Contact reporter Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.