& Dolls Rocks The Pines
By Jeannie Lieberman
Damon Runyon’s homage to the colorful denizens of New York’s underbelly with its vibrant vocabulary sat easily on the tongues of the Pines’ cast as did the Frank Loesser score with only the slightest alterations to Jo Swerling & Abe Burrow’s award winning book.
And from the signature opening bugle call to its joyous finale music Director Eric Martin and his crackerjack band served it well. Just reading the program with its listing of the colorful character’s names is a hoot.
The partnering of Nathan & Adelaide seems so perfect one wondered how it could be played any other way. Cynthia Murray-Davis’ chubby huggable Adelaide made even more sympathetic vs. Michael Francis Stromar’s slender Sinatra-esque sneaky Nathan Detroit makes the relationship even more telling as she dreams matrimony and he dreams gambling
Chameleon Steven Allen Black inhabits Benny Southstreet with such mischievous glee, as do his henchmen, the expert James Duus, who has his tenor tour de force in the now classic “Sit Down You’re Rockin the Boat”, as Nicely, Nicely Johnson, and Lou Bullock as Rusty Charlie that you can forgive these gamblers anything. Add Britton Saffer as Harry the Horse and later John Cassese as Big Jule and you’ll follow them anywhere, from street, to sewer, to Salvation Army headquarters.
Amanda Ferguson of the sweet voice and strict morals was perfect as the sexually repressed girlish Sister Sarah emerged a perfect foil for Charles Logan’s rogue-ish Sky Masterson. And Mike Hartstein’s cameo role as the avuncular Arvide Abernathy broke your heart with his “All That I Can Wish You” advice to Sarah, supported by Lisa Zinn’s Martha. And Demetros Sengos tried his menacing best as Lt. Brannigan to nab this hilarious mob in the act.
The lovable Lichtensteins a show biz staple worked perfectly into the cast/plot as Rita blended in with the Salvation Army crew and Jacks part as Joey Biltmore was tailor made with a hilarious performance as he the script and clutching his “desk”. Ingenious.
There is always a stand out performance in a show but this time its four – the Kit Kay Boys, David Ballard, Robert Conte, Erik Magnus, Stephen Simowski (you knew there would be some Pine-wise cast changes) making the entire ensemble the pines’ own. Joe Barros’ choreography was tight, and terrific as the boys seemed to expand the small stage with their presence be it as chorus “guys” or gamblers. They brought a bit of Broadway to the stage. And hoots of appreciation emphasized their quality.
Director/designer Glen Wilgus’ revolving set was a masterpiece of special economy as it opened on that iconic newsstand (which had copies of Variety and New Yorker prominently in display) then morphed from dressing room to Kit Kat stage to underground sewer, to mission meeting place –even traveling to Havana – (amazing what Hawaiian shirts can do) and the purposely miss matched costumes were little jokes in themselves. However Big Jule’s yellow overcoat is a wardrobe staple I would love to own (hint?)
Music Director Eric Martin ad his uncredited band did credit to the Loesser Score. Local references and local kids Molly and Sammy Grob brought the show home
FIPAP gambled and won with this choice!
The Denizens of Runyonland
for Tinhorns: Nicely (James Duus), Benny (Steven Alan Black)
Rusty (Lou Bullock)
the Fold: Sarah Brown (Amanda Ferguson),
(Rita Lichtenstein).Agatha (Lisa Zinn)
Established Crap Game in New York
Know When My Love Comes Along: Sarah & Sky Masterson (Charles Logan)
& A Peck: Miss Adelaide (Cynthia Murray-Davis)
David Ballard, Robert Conte, Erik Magnus, Stephen Simowski
Adelaide’s Lament (Cynthia Murray-Davis)
& Dolls: Nicely (James Duus), Benny (Steven Alan
Booth Biltmore Garage: Jack Lichtenstein
Jule (John Cassese)
Night in Havana
Were a Bell:
Sarah & Sky
Back Your Mink: Adelaide
and the Hot Box Dancers
Adelaide’s Second Lament
I Cannot Wish You: Sarah & Abernathy (Mike Hartstein)
Game in the Sewer
Be A Lady Tonight: Sky, Men
Me: Adelaide & Nathan (Michael Francis Stromar)
Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat Nicely (James Duus)
The Man Today: Adelaide,
WELL DESERVED BOWS
Brava, Bravo. Bravi