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Guys & Dolls: Luck Be a Lady Tonight

Guys & Dolls

By Shannon Koga

            Summer reached a new kind of wonderful with the weekend showings of “Guys & Dolls,” a whimsical musical about love, sacrifice, and the hardships of gambling.  Directed by Ken Hill—Shasta College professor and experienced actor, director, and producer—and also brought to life thanks to the hard work of volunteer actors, students, and the lovely theatre staff, “Guys & Dolls” was truly a hit.

It started out with a bustling line to the theatre. People took their seats, silenced their cell phones, and the lights began to dim. Dr. Elizabeth Waterbury conducted the orchestra in the show’s lively, upbeat 50’s-style music. Waterbury and her husband, actor and musical conductor Robert Waterbury (who played Abernathy in the show,) founded the Shasta Vocal Institute, a program for aspiring singers. The music propelled the audience into the show immediately as the curtains opened to a New York skyline setting and the actors danced about in perfect, city-like chaos choreographed by the amazing Roni Grandell. There’s even a drunken man, stumbling about—how’s that for realism?

The play unfolds as the audience meets mercurial, craps bookie Nathan Detroit (Dash Waterbury) and his criminal buddies, Nicely-Nicely (Adam Gilbert) and Benny Southstreet (Andrew Kessler.) The men decide to scam a fellow craps player and renowned criminal, Sky Masterson (Blake Fisher) for a thousand dollars and a new craps venue. All Sky has to do is take Christian missionary, Sarah Brown (Halie Benfer) to Cuba.

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With the realistic set, beautiful lighting design, and outstanding actors, it’s easy to get sucked in almost instantly. All the actors had amazing voices, and the moment Benfer and Fisher began their first duet, “I’ll Know,” it was clear these actors are bound to go somewhere incredible. Benfer’s voice was of such quality it’s amazing she isn’t on Broadway right this second, while Fisher carried his faux-accent through his vocals with charm and excellence. The two had amazing chemistry on stage, bringing to life this sheltered missionary girl and bad-news guy. The crowd went wild with applause the moment they shared a kiss.

The two leads weren’t the only mentionables, however. Adelaide, played by talented Cassie Wise, was the better half to Nathan Detroit, singing beautifully and dancing in fantastical, sparkling get-ups throughout the show. Her solo songs represented great emotion and range of voice.IMG_0859

Even Nicely-Nicely stole the stage away with his powerful voice, animating a rather hilarious missionary meeting similar to AA meetings. Gilbert was lively and boisterous, creating the greatest distraction from all the turmoil and conflict.

And of course, Robert Waterbury blew the audience away with Abernathy’s serenade to Sarah Brown during a moment of sadness. Dash Waterbury represented great skill in all his scenes (and great shouting!) with the wonderful crapshooters and hotbox girls constantly on par with their singing and dancing. And who could forget the wonderful Cuban dancers and the inevitable brawl? Each and every actor trained well and shone like the sequins on one of Adelaide’s fancy dresses.

As the musical came to a close, the crowd bid the crew with a standing ovation. There wasn’t a single person leaving without a smile on their face. When director Ken Hill was asked, afterward, how he felt about the turn-out of the production, he grinned and said, “I couldn’t be happier. I’m in love with everyone—the cast and crew. My cheeks hurt from laughing.”

And he wasn’t the only one. Not many would expect such mastery from a college production, but that’s what you’ll find here. “Guys & Dolls” is the real deal—marvelous choreography, incredible singing, and amazing acting. The story takes sucks you in and doesn’t let go until Sky, Sarah, Nathan, and Adelaide find their happy ending.

If you weren’t pinned to your seat throughout the entirety of the musical, you truly missed out! Shasta College’s theatre puts on multiple shows throughout the school year—don’t forget to buy your ticket and settle in the theatre. You’re in for a treat.

 

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