Castleton’s stage production of Guys and Dolls wasn’t just good, great or excellent – it exceeded all expectations and caught many off guard with the top-tier quality of the performance.
How do I know all of this? Well not a single phone screen lit up during the performance. Not a single one. That’s impressive. And a compliment.
The cast of Guys and Dolls was able to maintain the attention of a room full of community members and Soundings students for just under three hours.
The night was filled with applause after applause, inevitably ending with an extended standing ovation.
The immersion I experienced in the opening minutes of the show was fascinating. It was a stark reminder of the technology-less society that existed not long before most students were born.
The curtain opened to a busy street with accompanying musical ensemble to let us all know that this street was busy. And not just regular busy, unicycle-riding busy.
The audience and I soaked in the brilliant chemistry between Katy Albert (Adelaide) and Vinny Tatro (Nathan Detroit) as they debuted in their final Castleton production as students.
The theater roared with laughter at the lines “Oh Nathan you shouldn’t have”…”Don’t worry, I didn’t!” after the reveal of a 14 year engagement. Oof!
Brandon Bailey (Sky Masterson) brought his robust voice and collected performing back to the stage with an energy overflowing with confidence that paired wonderfully with Cydney Krone’s magnificent singing voice as the duo took on several jaw-dropping numbers.
Krone’s voice was familiar, and it would take the remainder of the show for me to realize that I was getting Julie Andrews vibes from some of the notes she was reaching.
One of my favorite scenes from the show was relatively early on when Tatro was stationed at a darkened payphone. The exchange of dialogue was masterfully done, and the voice on the other end (Gannon Teunisson) had me completely immersed in the conversation.
The back and forth was perfectly executed with a significant attention to comedic timing, and I was ready to hear more.
After my second screening of the show (one for production photos, and one for this review) something happened. I wanted to go back again. And not just the next performance – I wanted to go to all of the remaining shows.
And it was Katy Albert as Adelaide that did it.
Her musical numbers were stellar, and every scene that Albert appeared in I was prepared to laugh until my sides hurt. I was totally immersed in every one of her scenes and I wanted to experience the same laugh-till-it-hurts feeling at the remaining performances.
One of my favorite lines was “It won’t take us long” followed by the best giggle I have ever heard in my life.
Krone’s debut on stage also took me off guard. I was pleasantly surprised to hear such a refined singing voice from a freshman. And her portrayal of Sarah Brown seemed to fit perfectly.
The dancing in Havana was a highlight of the show, specifically the entrance of Gannon Teunisson with the tables and chairs, and the short segment with Becca Russell and Teunisson that left audience members looking for their jaw.
I do have to mention that I saw the character of Nicely-Nicely Johnson performed by two different actors throughout the run of the show. Professor Helen Mango covered three nights, where Eric Korzun took over for two nights. Mango and the ensemble spurred goosebumps at certain musical numbers and her voice was beyond perfect for this role.
Korzun’s portrayal of the character was wonderful, and his musical performance was acceptable considering his debut was Friday night – three days after his last time on stage as Nicely-Nicely which was a dress rehearsal.
While stunning, the show did have some struggles.
Dancers repeatedly were caught looking down at their feet.
Singers suffered from pitch issues, oversinging or rigidity.
And the cast really struggled during choreographed scenes with groups completely out of sync with each other.
With that being said, the physical acting of everyone on stage was phenomenal regardless of the role. And the lighting from scene to scene was captivating, and set the tone with beautifully contrasting colors and placement.
I also discovered, to my surprise, that the backdrops used were from the original show performed 20 years ago and made former art professor Bill Ramage.
This paired (ironically) wonderful with the alumni performance, where actors from the show 20 years ago and alum returned to the stage.
Alum arrived Saturday morning, learned a few dances and songs and performed later alongside Castleton students.
This was one show you really didn’t want to miss.