May 18 2011 12:00 AM

Spotty musical comedy won't rock anyone's boat

It’s always just a little odd when people writing for
Broadway transform gritty, venial life stories into happy-go-lucky,
salt-of-the-earth, charming-as-all-get-out-musicals. Add to the
weirdness the notion of reviving an urban New York city musical from 61
years ago and hoping the plot may still have relevance, and one has all
the makings of a potential disaster.

Enter the Holt-Dimondale Players with a resurrection of
“Guys and Dolls.” In the spirit of high school and college graduations,
this review is in the form of a report card. Musicals are graded on many
different facets, choreography and singing voices, costumes and
characterizations. Can the singers act? Can the actors sing?  

Fourteen musical numbers into “Guys and Dolls,” suddenly
the entire cast is on the stage, and Dale Powell, in the supporting role
of Nicely-Nicely Johnson, brings down the house by leading the choir in
a rousing version of “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.” Give Powell
an A-plus for that number, and for his overall musical consistency,
great acting chops and — something lacking in most of the other actors
in the production — stage movement. 

Yes, there are choreographed dance numbers, both for men
and women, but the women — the so-called Hot Box dancers — are anything
but hot, and sexpots they are not. Replacing the surgical white
stockings with black mesh might help a bit to suggest sensuality. Give
the dancers, overall, a B. Many of the non-dancing parts in this
production feature actors standing around like deer in the headlights of
an oncoming train. 

Kate Stachlewitz Tykocki, as Miss
Adelaide, is a notable exception and delivers five B-plus musical
numbers with great song and dance intensity and amusing
characterization. On the other hand, Chad DeKatch, portraying the
gambler Sky Masterson, sleeps and schleps his way through his lines in a
surprisingly, seemingly indifferently detached C-plus manner, even when
displaying a reasonably good singing voice. Keith Gracia-Wing’s
characterization of Nathan Detroit dishonors the movie memory of Frank
Sinatra, delivering  a performance more akin to  Pee Wee Herman or Pinky Lee; also a C-plus. (Lose the dopey pork-pie hat).

Rachael Raymer, as militant evangelist Sarah Brown, is as
dynamic as a bowl of melting vanilla ice cream, as bland as a bowl of
mashed potatoes; yep, yet another C-plus. On opening weekend, the pit
orchestra was at times — well — the pits, opening up both the first and
second acts with multiple missed notes. They were also not fully tuned
up at the very beginning of the show.

Costumes are, for the most part, rumpled and worn, not
representative of any particular modern era and not nearly what one
might expect from a group of gangster hoodlum street hustlers and the
hats, an eclectic mix of fedoras, to be sure; C-plus and D-plus here. 

Holt and Dimondale Community Players is now in its sixth
season, no longer the new kid on the block. It is time to graduate from a
suburban subdivision version of the old Ted Mack Amateur Hour to
something more reflective of what people expect from community theater. 

Only the performances of two individual actors bump this
production up to a B-minus grade rather than the solid C-plus it would
otherwise deserve.

'Guys and Dolls'
Holt & Dimondale Community Players
7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, through May 21; 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, May 21
Holt Junior High School, 1784 Aurelius Road, Holt
$12 adults; $8 students and seniors
(517) 694-3411