Keeper of the Plans

Review: This oldie is definitely still a goodie. MTW's 'Guys and Dolls' impresses

"Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," from the company of "Guys and Dolls" at Music Theatre Wichita.
"Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," from the company of "Guys and Dolls" at Music Theatre Wichita. Courtesy

You know that feeling of nostalgia you get listening to agood Sinatra tune?

Those honeyed, dulcet tones that make you pine for thedecades gone by?

That feeling is what you can expect from Music TheatreWichita’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”

The company is producing the musical for the first time in 22 years. It's the story of a pair of New York gamblers and the antics they get into, as well as the "dolls" they fall in love with.

It’s a pitch-perfect homage to 1950s New York, a tightlypolished and satisfying show sure to impress.

And it’s surprisingly balanced.

Past productions of “Guys and Dolls” have historically hadtrouble figuring out who exactly the leads are. In the original 1950production, the actor playing Sky Masterson was considered the Leading Actor,but in subsequent productions, actors playing Nathan Detroit have beenconsidered the Leading Actor.

At MTW’s production, both pairs of leading men and leadingladies act like headliners – hence all four being billed above the title. Noone couple feels relegated to the “supporting” role, which lends a fluiddynamic to the musical.

Monte Riegel Wheeler, here playing Nathan Detroit,particularly impresses.

Wheeler is in his prime, and is good for a laugh a minute in“Guys and Dolls.”

The spunky Jenni Barber was a particular audience favorite –here playing opposite Wheeler as the forever-postponed fiancée.

I mean, it’s a Music Theatre Wichita production – it wouldbe more unusual if the Broadway veterans they bring in weren’t impressive.

It’s sometimes easy to dismiss or forget about classic showslike this – the mindset of “new, new, new” is definitely real.

But, then, explain why “My Fair Lady” is back on Broadway? Whatabout “Carousel?”

It’s just proof that the true classics – like “Guys andDolls” – have stood the test of time for a reason.

The story is much stronger than many of its contemporaries,which allows its talent a chance to show off their significant acting chops.

The 25-piece orchestra here, led by MTW longtimer Thomas W.Douglas, is stunning. The songs always propel the story forward, and themusical isn’t burdened by excessive underscoring – another relic of these “classic”musicals.

Music Theatre Wichita’s production of “Guys and Dolls” is adelight to watch. It’s well-paced and as solid as a well-oiled machine.

Do yourself a favor and see it.

“GUYS AND DOLLS”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2 p.m. Sat.-Sun.; and 7 p.m. Sun.

Where: Concert Hall, Century II, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $34-$69 for evening performances, $32-$66 for matinees, from the Century II box office, by phone at 316-265-3107 or online at www.mtwichita.org.

More information: Show is rated G. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Children must be at least 5 years old to attend an MTW production.

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