Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace Invites You To Be Dazzled By Guys And Dolls Through June 9

Guys and Dolls,Photo:Brett Beiner
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Guys and Dolls won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Musical. Frank Loesser created the music and lyrics with the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The production is based on Damon Runyon’s two short stories, “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown (1933) and Blood Pressure.” Guys and Dolls also use characters and plot elements from other Runyon stories. It ran for twelve hundred performances on Broadway. In 1954 Samuel Goldwyn bought the movie story Guys and Dolls for one million dollars. The movie’s total cost was five and a half million dollars. It was a good bet. The film won two Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture and Jean Simmons for Best Actress, earning over nine million in revenue.

“Luck Be a Lady” Pepe Nefrio

In his CBS Toast to “A Million Dollar Story,” Ed Sullivan acclaimed ‘Guys and Dolls now’ “Because I felt that this was the greatest musical I had ever seen.” Time Magazine also called it “the greatest of all American musicals while the New York Times raves it’s “the show that defines Broadway dazzle.” Drury Lane Theatre’s Guys and Dolls sure brings that dazzle with this first show of the 2024/2025 season. This show makes its triumphant return to Chicagoland’s professional stage since it was missing for over a decade. Guys and Dolls is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-nominated Dan Knechteges. He calls “Guys and Dolls one of the greatest shows ever written.” He credits its premier musical status to Loesser’s great hit score and Runyon’s singular and colorful characters. 

Director and Choreographer Dan Knechtges

The phenomenally talented cast of Guys and Dolls includes Jackson Evans (Nathan Detroit), a 1950s schemer gangster/gambler running illegal floating crap games on Broadway. He is in a constant struggle to find a location for his gambling den. His performance is stellar. He and his charming, witty, sassy, spirited, frustrated fiancee Alanna Lovely (Miss Adelaide), lead star dancer at the Hot Box nightclub, establish a fabulous comedic rapport with their forever ongoing fourteen-year engagement. Their relationship’s quick quips, banter, dancing, and singing prowess are entertainment gold. Lovely’s singing, “Adelaides Lament,” with the ensemble is beautifully haunting.

Alanna Lovely as Miss Adelaide

Pepe Nufrio (Sky Masterson) is a star singer and dancer. His singing of “Luck Be a Lady” with the crapshooters is marvelous. He deftly plays a gambler extraordinaire who bets Nathan Detroit he can lure any doll to Havana, Cuba, for a romantic rendezvous. Erica Stephan (Sarah Brown) perfectly portrays the passionate, idealistic, naive, dreamer character intent to save sinner souls. She is the doll targeted in this bet. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed that I did not feel a romantic chemistry was established between these two actors like the electric energy generated between Evans and Lovely. Gene Weygandt (Arvide Abernathy), as the elderly Christian bass drummer, generates warmth, support, and wisdom to Sarah Brown, encouraging her to fall in love despite her strict proper demeanor.

Pepe Nefrio as Sky Materson

Jordan Anthony Arredondo (Harry the Horse) has a signature move the audience adored. The gangster monikers such as (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) Nkrumah Gatling, (Benny Southstreet), Christopher Llewyn Ramirez, and (Rusty Charlie) Spencer Davis Milford add to the comic brilliance of this show. Their rendition of “Fugue for Tinhorns” is terrific. Heidi Kettenring’s (General Matilda B. Cartwright) antics and dialogue are a hoot and she gets an enthusiastic audience response. Austin Nelson Jr.’s performance (Hot Box Emcee) really captivates the theatergoers. K.C. McNeill (Big Jule) is cast perfectly, and his performance is badass. Karl Hamilton (Lt. Brannigan) plays his stereotypical New York no-nonsense police detective convincingly.

Pepe Nufrio (Sky Masterson) and Erica Stephan (Sarah Brown)

The creative team behind this glitzy spectacular musical hit comedy includes Roberta Duchak (co-music director), Chris Sargent (co-music director), Angie Weber Miller (scenic design), Leon Dobkowski (costume design), Lee Fiskness (lighting design), Ray Nardelli (sound design) Cassy Schillo (properties design), Emily Santiago (co-wig/hair designer), Ansley Hughes (co-wig/hair designer), Felicia Finley (assistant choreographer), Larry Baker (production stage manager), and Cassy Morell (assistant stage manager). The neon-lit stage properties were creative and fabulous and added to the razzle-dazzle of Guys and Dolls. The audience roared with laughter at the transition between scenes of New York to the trip to Havana, portrayed by a porter carrying a model airplane across the stage-very cleverly designed.

Guys and Dolls Company Crapshooters

Drury Lane Theatre (630) 530-0111 is located at 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. Tickets start at $94.95, including taxes and fees. Group discounts are available to groups of fifteen or more. Dining at Lucille’s and show packages are available. The schedule of performances is Wednesdays: 1:30 p.m., Thursdays: 1:30 and 7:00 p.m., Fridays: 7:00 p.m., Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 P.M., Sundays 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The Box Office is open Monday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Photos Courtesy of: Brett Beiner


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