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'Guys and Dolls' at Broadway Rose rolls the dice and comes up a winner

By HOLLY JOHNSON // The company in Tigard offers highest of standards, and Broadway Rose co-creator Sharon Maroney does some of her finest directing to date.

The folks at Broadway Rose Theater have outdone themselves with a bright, brisk production of the American favorite “Guys and Dolls.”

It’s grand summer entertainment, and “summer” is the operative word here. Bring a sweater or jacket to Tigard High School, where the show unfolds; the air conditioning is fierce.

They say it’s hard to do a bad show of Shakespeare. The same might be said of this Damon Runyon favorite, set in mid-century America, a kinder era than today. A compilation of Runyon short stories from the 1920s and ‘30s, the show, with book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, opened in 1950 in New York to enthusiasm. It takes a satirical peek at the gangsters, gamblers and other street folk in New York City’s underworld. Even Salvation Army lasses.

The lyrics are clever, the songs are delectable and the humor flows like a crap game. Luckily, the company in Tigard offers highest of standards, and Broadway Rose co-creator Sharon Maroney does some of her finest directing to date.

So what if leading lady Dru Rutledge as Salvation Army lass Sarah Brown has an upper soprano range that is shrill and unsteady? Her drunk scene in a Havana nightclub is wonderful to behold. So what if Emily Sahler’s Miss Adelaide is more charicature than character? She still supplies plenty of laughs, and keeps Adelaide’s sweet awkwardness right on the money.

The actors that really shine, though, are the guys. Joe Theissen, with his slick demeanor and pencil moustache, creates a smarmy but sentimental Nathan Detroit, whose burning goal, as the play unfolds, is to find a spot for his illegal floating crap game. Theissen’s nattily dressed Nathan seems a bit tough around the edges, but we soon realize he’s just a big pussycat, avoiding marriage with the showgirl he loves (Miss Adelaide), but loving her all the same. Ryan Reilly is a strong, droll Sky Masterson (he performed [last season in Broadway Rose’s “Your Holiday Hit Parade”). He’s got a voice that stands out, impressive in “My Kind of Day,” the wistful, sweet “I’ll Know” and the second-act hit “Luck Be a Lady,” one of the show’s highlights (“Stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with…”).

Supporting characters are grand.

Brandon B. Weaver as crapshooter Nicely-Nicely Johnson delivers the vocal goods, especially in the most satisfying number of all “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.”It’s a triumph not only for composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, but for Broadway Rose choreographer Maria Tucker. She has pulled all the actors together in this number in a tight cluster of flapping humanity, with Weaver leading the business. As Salvation Army’s General Cartwright, Margo Schembre moves from stiff-backed officer to joyous kick-up-your-heels dancer: She’s a treat.

The orchestra directed by Jeffrey Childs shines. The sets brought in from the Music and Theater Company sparkle. They’re innovative, transporting us to Runyon’s mythical time and place. Costumes are great, a profusion of colorful plaid suits, dapper vintage fedoras, fluffy night- club gowns and more. They are rented in part from the Main State Music Theater and designed by Ryan J. Moller, with additional pieces by Brynne Oster-Bainnson.

The show performed at the Deb Fennell Auditorium runs two hours and 40 minutes, with a 20-minute intermission.

Tickets and information here wwwbroadwayrose.org or call 503-620-5262. You can also pick up ticket by visiting the box office at 12850 SW Grant Ave., Tigard.

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