Take A Soul, Leave A Soul: “Guys & Dolls”

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Book by Abe Burrows & Jo Swerling
Music & Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Choreographed and directed by Ceit Zweil
Music direction by Dan Rodriguez
Dramaturgy by Sydney Grant
Fight and Intimacy Direction by Angie Jepson
EDI Consultant: Kira Troilo, Art & Soul Consulting LLC

Online Playbill

June 7 – 30, 2024
Greater Boston Stage Company
395 Main Street
​Stoneham, MA 02180

Critique by Kitty Drexel

STONEHAM, Mass. — It’s a tale as old as time: A bookie attempts to set up a roving craps game to avoid the cops and, in doing so, arranges a love match between a perma-bachelor and a devote missionary. Guys and Dolls plays at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham through June 30. 

Gambler, Nathan Detroit (Arthur Gomez), tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck; meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide (Sara Coombs), laments that they’ve been engaged for fourteen years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler, Sky Masterson (Jared Troilo), for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing the strait-laced missionary, Sarah Brown (Lisa Kate Joyce)

Will the gamblers find their game? Will the missionaries fill every seat for their midnight prayer meeting before the General closes the mission? Only if Lady Luck is on their side! The leads are supported by an ensemble of gamblers, show gals, and missionaries featuring the talents of Mark Linehan, Chip Phillips, Abigail Martin, Stephen Markarian, Darren Paul, Kaedon Gray, Hannah Shihdanian, Allison Russell, Christian David, and Carolyn Saxon as General Cartwright. 

Guys and Dolls is a comedic Frank Loesser musical hailing back to a simpler time when men were men, women were women, and people liked it because other identities were illegal in the 1950s. Like most period pieces, Guys and Dolls may inspire joyful nostalgia with its snappy Showtunes or invoke ire with its outdated gender and racial commentary. 

Greater Boston Stage Company’s production does the former without provoking the latter. The cast sings and dances. Their jokes land. It’s a fun production. 

Directors Zweil and Rodriguez let the show be what it is, tongues firmly placed in cheeks as necessary. The choreography is beautiful. The music is, too. 

The Hot Box girls. Photo by Gillian Gordon.

This production of Guys and Dolls has a reduced cast. It’s intimate. The ensemble performs double and triple duty as gamblers, Hot Box dancers, and New York citizens. We get to hear the banter between cast members as they ad-lib responses during group scenes. We catch informal cast interactions that tell us about their characters’ relationships. These are the fun little moments the audience sees because the stage isn’t crowded with humans. 

Leads Gomez, Coombs, Troilo, and Joyce are great. They sing well. They dance well too. Comedy duo Stephen Markarian as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Mark Linehan as Benny Southstreet are hilarious!  They make a good team. 

Saturday’s matinee was lovely! But, the energy level felt low. Low-energy days happen. Should one find you, trust your performance technique: keep your consonants and your choreography crisp, enunciate your dialogue (especially if it’s old-fashioned slang), lead stage crosses with your upstage leg, let the mic do the work, and project your energy to the back of the audience. You’re doing great!

Guys and Dolls isn’t a complicated show with heavy messaging. It’s fun. The good guys win and everyone finds love with a kiss and a song. This production does everything it sets out to do. The audience chuckles, sighs at the schmaltzy romance, and goes home with fond memories. There is great value in light entertainment. 

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