Burns and Murray Review “Guys and Dolls” at the Cohoes (NY) Music Hall, August 2-12 [Berkshire on Stage]
by Gail Burns and Larry Murray. For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org.
Larry Murray: Guys and Dolls has opened the tenth season for C-R Productions at the Cohoes Music Hall, it’s a wonderful show, and it’s arguably the best musical ever written. The colorful characters, the hummable music, the bright costumes, they’re all theatrical heaven.
Gail Burns: C-R Productions’ Artistic Director Jim Charles says its one of his favorite musicals and he is not alone. Frank Loesser (1910-1969), who wrote the music and lyrics, was already established as a successful tunesmith on Tin Pan Alley and in Hollywood before trying his hand on Broadway with a musical adapation of Charley’s Aunt in 1948. Guys and Dolls (1950), based on a couple of Damon Runyon’s Broadway short stories, was his second Broadway show and won him his first two Tonys. He also penned the magificent but seldom performed Most Happy Fella (1956) and the less successful Greenwillow (1960), before winning two more Tonys and the Pulitzer for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961) (Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling’s book for Guys and Dolls would have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama had Burrows not been in trouble with the House Un-American Activities Committee.)
Larry: It seems like just yesterday (2011 actually) we had the pleasure of its acquaintance at Barrington Stage Company in another brilliant production. What do you think the difference is between them? (Link to Gail’s review)
Gail: I loved the BSC production last year. They are a larger, bigger budgeted company performing on much larger stage, so in a way it is comparing apples and oranges, but Guys and Dolls can be wonderful on a large or small scale. LoriAnn Freda’s Miss Adelaide was every bit the equal to Leslie Kritzer’s boffo performance, and I liked Paul C. Kelly as Nathan Detroit much better than Michael Thomas Holmes at BSC. But the best part of any C-R Productions show is getting to hear the score unmiked. And Cohoes always has a decent sized pit orchestra, while BSC has sometimes mounted musicals with two pianos.