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'Guys and Dolls' dance, sing and gamble on Hale Center Theater Orem stage

Published: Monday, July 1 2013 5:57 p.m. MDT

GUYS AND DOLLS; based on a story by Damon Runyon; directed by David Morgan; Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North; 7:30 p.m. nightly through Aug. 10; Tickets 801-226-8600; running time 2 hours 30 minutes with one intermission

OREM — Hale Center does the usual with this lively, funny production about gamblers, redemption and romance.

The actors are well-cast. Adelaide, played effortlessly by Kelly Hennessey with charm and guilelessness, is an absolute standout. She lights up the stage each time she appears, and her signature songs "Adelaide's Lament" and "Marry the Man Today" (sung with Brittni Bills-Smith as Sarah Brown) are not to be missed. "Take Back Your Mink" is pretty funny and well-done also, as this strip-tease number is shaped to Hale Center modesty standards.

Blake Barlow makes a very smooth leading man in Sky Masterson, obviously surprised and dismayed to find himself caught up in his attraction to Mission Doll Brown.

Nicely-Nicely Johnson, played by Scott Sackett in the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday cast, is dead-on as a sidekick gambling buddy to Nathan Detroit, Adelaide's well-meaning but shifty fiancé of 14 years, played by Carter Thompson.

Alec Powell, playing Big Jule, is a nice, threatening presence for the craps game where he brings his own blind dice and a big gun.

Supporting gangsters and dancers and mission people are all energetic, polished and fun in their roles.

The pace is good, and everything moves along with dispatch.

The choreography is snappy and fun, particularly Adelaide and her debutantes in their Hot Box numbers.

The costuming is extraordinary from the feathery, pinned hats to the matching shoes, purses and drawers.

The only problems evident on opening night were a few of the songs sung in the basement registers. It's unusual to have flat notes and awkward reaches in a Hale Center Theater Orem production.

This show is a classic and written years ago, so it's surprising that the dialogue still fits so well.

"Sue Me" between Adelaide and Detroit is just so amusing and still wrenching.

"Marry the Man Today" is wonderful and wry, as Adelaide and Brown figure out their men are not going to change right away so they might as well marry them now.

Somehow this story manages to take some pretty serious stuff and turn it into a rollicking musical comedy with heart.

It's clever, timeless and entertaining.

Squeeze it into the summer's schedule.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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