Guys and Dolls – The Haverford School in Haverford, PA
March 15, 2016
Review by: Melina Walling of The Episcopal Academy
It was The Haverford School’s lucky night at their upbeat production of Guys and Dolls! It’s certainly no crapshoot to say that their talented leading actors, standout supporting roles, and endurance over a nearly three-hour show brought as much “action” as the illegal gambling scene of New York.
Guys and Dolls first made its debut on Broadway in 1950, but has since remained a classic. The show’s timeless tunes follow a few fearless characters from the shadier side of Times Square to a reckless bet at a mission, a wild night in Havana, and many a run-in with the “dolls” they love. But it’s unsure whether these dangerous players will beat the odds or wind up with more than they bargained for!
Haverford was largely successful due to the effortless characterization of the musical’s larger-than-life personalities. The musicality of the show was mesmerizing, creating an immersive experience. The efficient stage crew was also essential; the swift transitions effectively prevented the play’s length from overshadowing the talent of its storytellers.
Four strong leads gave the show its anchor. Ryan Conway (Sky Masterson) had outstanding vocals and excellent chemistry with the equally talented Olivia Friewald (Sarah Brown). Alex Sanfilippo (Nathan Detroit) stayed with an incredibly convincing accent for the entire performance, while his costar Catherine de Lacoste-Azizi (Adelaide) simultaneously maintained her “stuffy nose” while belting out showstoppers like “Adelaide’s Lament”.
Haverford went all-in with some key supporting roles, and these performances were where the production excelled. Drew Weiss brought down the house with his hilarious and effortless portrayal of Nicely-Nicely Johnson, especially in his rendition of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”. Weiss’s sidekick, J.R. Pender, gave Benny Southstreet a kind of loveable zest that worked seamlessly with Nicely-Nicely’s good humor. Although the ensemble as a whole occasionally lacked this same intense energy, each individual actor was still able to positively contribute to the mood of the show.
Despite using only minimal technical elements, the precise work on this front paid off extremely well. The simple set allowed for a better use of the stage by the large cast. The costumes, though simple, established the wearers’ roles and reinforced the period of the piece. Despite a few wardrobe and microphone malfunctions, the tech never took away from the show and kept the audience engaged and entertained.
It isn’t a roll of the dice-Haverford’s Guys and Dolls was definitely a big win!
Review by: Natalie Stevens of Harriton High School
People always say “if there’s a will, there’s a way,” and never have truer words been spoken about the group of gangsters in The Haverford School’s production of Guys and Dolls.
In need of some money to host a crap game, gambler Nathan Detroit makes a bet with Sky Masterson that he could not convince the determined missionary Sarah Brown to Havana with him the following day. Through the twists and turns of gambling and love, this pack of sinners stumble their way to Broadway, learn that love conquers all, and prove that saints and sinners alike are just normal people.
This composed production was brought to life by the fluidity of the cast members. Their determination and excitement kept this lengthy show at an upbeat tempo. The timing of both the leads and the ensemble never let the show drag, always keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
The comedic couple of Nathan Detroit, played by Alex Sanfilippo, and Adelaide, played by Catherine de Lacoste-Azizi, were both incredibly powerful through their chemistry and ability to work off one another with impeccable comedic timing. Lacoste-Azizi additionally showed the audience a truly passionate rendition through her dedication and stunning vocals. A stellar performance was also performed by Olivia Friewald, who showed a complete understanding of her character, the purposeful and conservative Sarah Brown. Her attitude and impressive vocal abilities were well executed during her revealing number “If I Were a Bell.”
The energy of the show was upheld by the entire cast all the way through even one of the final numbers. During the song “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” the movements were incredibly compelling due to the excitement of the cast members. This song was lead by the talented Drew Weiss, playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson, whose strong vocals brought a new level of enthusiasm to this piece.
While there were some occasional difficulties when it came to sound, this skilled cast was able to push right on through them. A key aspect to the show was certainly the costumes. Both appropriate to the show and well created, these costumes certainly added to the viewer’s understanding of the show and time period.
Overall the performance was endlessly hilarious and entertaining for all audience members. The great success of this show proved that for The Haverford School, there was no luck necessary!