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‘Guys and Dolls’ offers a fine Lake City finish

Lake City Playhouse rolls the dice and scores with its season-ender, “Guys and Dolls.” This American classic musical, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burros, is set on the streets of New York City in the 1950s and features characters like Harry the Horse and Society Max.

The production’s strong chorus of gamblers – the guys – really shines in “Oldest Established” and “Luck be a Lady.” They are led by Benny Southstreet (Loren Mellick) and Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Lanz Edwin Babbitt). Babbitt is a scene stealer, backed by a great voice and performances in the numbers “Guys and Dolls” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”

Briane Green’s characterization of Adelaide, the girl who’s been engaged for 14 years, is excellent, both sweet and funny. She leads her Hot Box Dancers – the dolls – in “Bushel and a Peck” and “Take Back Your Mink” with big yet deliberate personality. Her boyfriend, Nathan Detroit (Glenn Bentley), is more interested in running the craps game than marriage. Bentley is a skilled vocalist, but his character portrayal is too calm, considering that his girlfriend, the gamblers and time are bearing down on him.

Caryssa Gilmore plays religious missionary Sarah Brown, who falls in love with gambler Sky Masterson (Brendan Brady). Gilmore’s pretty soprano voice and Brady’s sweet vocals make “If I Were a Bell” an endearing number. Brady’s Sky is not quite as imposing as that character is typically portrayed, however.

Even minor characters have their chance to shine. Lt. Brannigan (Kris Kittelson) has the best one-liners. And Woody Hurst, who plays missionary Arvide Abernathy, delivers a touching “More I Cannot Wish You.”

The fun characters, great singing and staging make this production, directed and choreographed by Jillian Kehne, an enjoyable way to finish the season.

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