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'Guys and Dolls' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

March 2, 2009 | 11:05 am


The latest Broadway revival of "Guys and Dolls" opened Sunday night at the Nederlander Theatre.

This version of  Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling's musical tale of love among the gamblers and dames of the streets of New York features Craig Bierko as the suave Sky Masterson and Oliver Platt ("Huff") as marriage-shy Nathan Detroit, Lauren Graham ("Gilmore Girls") as Miss Adelaide and Kate Jennings Grant as Sarah Brown. The revival is staged by former La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Des McAnuff ("Jersey Boys").

So was lady luck in the cards for this revival? Don't bet on it. Read what the critics had to say on the jump.

Tituss_burgess_as_nicelynicely_johnBen Brantley of the New York Times calls the revivial "uninspired," saying, "the show feels so static, as if paralyzed by self-consciousness. Nearly all the performers — from stars to chorus — approach their roles eagerly but diffidently, as if they would like to get to know the characters they play but are afraid of being rejected."

"The production sucks the personality out of an all-American musical-theater classic," says David Rooney of Variety. "The production is both gaudy and anemic, overdesigned and underdirected."
Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press calls the revival "curiously bland."  "What's missing in this ambitious production … is the raffish charm — and more importantly — the brash humor of Damon Runyon's stories about the high and low-life denizens of Times Square.

Lauren_graham_in_guys_and_dolls_2For Elysa Gardner of USA Today, the musical was an "uneven, frustrating experience." 

Joe Dziemianowicz of New York Daily News wasn't a fan of the "flatfooted new Broadway production," complaining about "overdesigned sets, unflattering costumes, pretentious dance numbers and an undeveloped bit about Damon Runyon observing characters he created. He shows up in scenes like a Where's Waldo wanna-be."

Linda Winer of Newsday bluntly calls it a "tarted-up and dumbed-down revival.... Oddly cast and oppressively overproduced, the show is so busy with dizzying cinematic scenery, hard-edge choreography and updated musical arrangements that it's hard to find the people, much less the pulse."

"How can something so zippy be so tedious?" asks a kinder, gentler Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post, calling the revival "a puzzle."

Guys_and_dolls_3Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune calls it a "strangely cast, uncharacteristically insecure and weirdly unfunny revival."

Jeremy Gerard of Bloomberg News calls it an "uneven, charm-challenged production."

Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly writes "it plays like a very good community theater production, albeit one with considerably pricier sets."

Malcolm Johnson, writing for the Hartford Courant, appeared to be the lone fan of the revival, praising the "joy ride back to the '50s with the splashy, jam-packed revival of 'Guys and Dolls.' "

--Lisa Fung

Top photo: Craig Bierko as Sky Masterson, left, and Oliver Platt as Nathan Detroit in the Broadway revival of "Guys and Dolls." Middle photo: Lauren Graham as Miss Adelaide. Bottom photo: A scene from "Guys and Dolls." Credit: Carol Rosegg / Associated Press