One of the greatest musicals ever made - a world famous Broadway Play and Hollywood movie starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando
These characters are back again - your neighbors, people you may see every day in the Williamsburg area re-born on the stage of the Williamsburg Players as quirky gangsters, Sisters of the Save your soul mission, and dance hall dolls- all singing and dancing as nicely-nicely as ever.
The play opens with Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Neil Hollands) slapping a race track program in his hands while singing, I got the Horse Right Here, His Name is Paul Revere. But you may also recognize him as one of the friendly people at the Williamsburg Library who recommends good books to you.
As Lt. Brannigan (Frank Connelly) said when he found all the local sinners and Big Jule (Madoline Wallace) playing crap in the Mission House - "What's going on here!" You may have seen Frank at the Northern Neck Insurance Company. Madeline underwrites mortgage loans for a local credit union, but she doesn't roll the dice there.
Small-time gambler Nathan Detroit (John Cauthen) urgently needs a thousand bucks to rent a local place for a crap game - but a "thousand dollars he ain't got." Desperate, he bets high roller Sky Masterson (Danon Middleton) that Sky can't take Sister Brown (Amanda Knowlton) head of the Mission House on a date in Havana. Sky immediately tries to bribe Sister Brown, promising his "marker" for one dozen sinners to come to a meeting at the Mission House. (I am not going to spoil your fun at the play telling you how this all comes out.)
John Cauthen tours Richmond School as Lord Capulet and Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet. Danon Middleton is excited to join Guys and Dolls as Sky Masterson. It was the first show he had ever seen on Broadway. Off stage Danon teaches kids English at Jamestown High School. Amanda Knowlton is performing in her first Williamsburg Players production. Before becoming Sister Brown. she got an MFA in acting from Mary Baldwin College in association with the American Shakespeare Association. She is now happily settled in an historic house in Colonial Williamsburg.with her husband Jay.
Nathan Detroit uses some dramatic dodges to keep from marrying Adelaide (Jennifer Kristen Lenten), his fiancé for fourteen years. She had even written to her mother that she married Nathan and they already had five children. She acts out her frustration singing a wildly beautiful Adelaide's Lament and Take Back Your Mink. Nathan sings his own response, Sue Me, What Can You Do Me. Jennifer is a professor of Dance/Musical Theatre at CNU. Another local girl makes good off Broadway..
The whole play is laced with nostalgic music most of us have listened to and hummed all our lives, including I've Never Been in Love Before, If I Were a Bell I Would be Ringing, Luck Be a Lady Tonight and A Bushel and a Peck. The theater management discourages you from trying to sing along during the play, but feel free to hum these hits as you go; .
When the play opened I was privileged to go back stage to meet some of the wonderful performers. I talked with Harry the Horse (Jeremy Singleton). He demonstrated how he developed three different voices - sharp, friendly, angry - to use when someone tried to keep Big Jule from rolling dice without numbers. She remembered the numbers when she picked up the money. Jeremy is majoring in Computer Science at TNCC. I sat next to "Sarah Brown," the lovely young Mission Doll I definitely would have invited to Havana on a date if she and I were not already happily married. I even sang with the cast in a musical warm up on stage before the play.
You will fall in love with all these "amateur actors" who live in the Williamsburg area and with raw talent and off-the-wall enthusiasm bring back life to Guys and Dolls from the Broadway Play and movie. Years ago I saw the movie in New York. I believe this local cast often achieves the same standards of these professional actors and sometimes even exceeds them.
Place your bet on Guys and Dolls now on stage of The William Players. You'll go home with wonderful memories in the years to come. And hats off to Christina Westinberger who directed all these Saints and Sinners..
Hal Gieseking, former Reporter for CBS Morning News working with Diane Sawyer and Bill Curtis,. consumer editor of Travel Holiday magazine in the 80s, and past president of the Society of American Travel Writers before coming to home.
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