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THEATER REVIEW: "Guys & Dolls" is splendid at Lamb’s Players Theatre

Those bad-boy New York gamblers are back, stirring up trouble and creating musical and romantic havoc at Lamb’s Players Theatre.

It’s Frank Loesser’s immortal musical “Guys & Dolls,” playing through April 1 at the Coronado theater. Kerry Meads directs.

Based on Damon Runyon’s stories about New York, Frank Loesser’s 1950 show became the fifth longest-running show on Broadway and one of the most beloved musicals in the repertoire.

Why? Runyon’s endearing characters and Loesser’s unforgettable songs, for starters. Where else will you meet showgirl Miss Adelaide (Eileen Bowman), who’s been “engaged” to a gambler for 14 years and has just discovered the reason for her post-nasal drip in a book: “Just from waiting around for that plain little band of gold/a person can develop a cold.”

Or Salvation Army “mission doll” Sarah Brown (Kelsey Venter), whose calling to save the plentiful sinners outside the mission door is undermined somewhat when she ends up in Havana (yes, that Havana) having dinner with gambler (and bigtime sinner) Sky Masterson (Brent Schindele) ... and falls in love with him.

Or Nathan Detroit (Spencer Rowe), Miss Adelaide’s fiancé, who spends his life looking for a place to hold frankly illegal crap games, and expends beaucoup energy lying to Adelaide about it.

The action plays out on Mike Buckley’s three-level set, with the small-but-mighty five-man orchestra (well directed by Jon Lorenz) on ground level. Jeanne Reith works her usual magic with the period costumes, and Patrick Duffy does good work on the sound design.

Venter and Schindele are well matched vocally and dramatically, as are Bowman and Rowe. And the secondary characters – Tim Roberts’s Nicely Nicely, Danny Boman’s Benny Southstreet, Andy Collinis’ Harry the Horse, Jim Chovick’s beleaguered Lt. Brannigan, Ralph Johnson’s Arvide Abernathy and Rhona Gold’s General Cartwright – add to the ambience.

Meads keeps the action moving nicely, but the real star of this choreography-heavy show is Colleen Kollar Smith, whose does great work on this small stage, stopping the show with the “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” number.

“Guys & Dolls” (with its terrific book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows) is as close to a perfect and indestructible show as exists in the musical comedy world. If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for? And if you have, this is a perfect time to revisit it.

The details

“Guys & Dolls: A Musical Fable of Broadway” plays through April 1 at Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave. in Coronado.

Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; matinees Saturday at 4 and Sunday at 2 pm.

For tickets, call (619) 437-6000 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.