Wednesday, November 18, 2015


David Ledingham as Sky Masterson, & co
JTC inaugurates new Tannery space with spirited Guys and Dolls

The second production in Jewel Theatre Company's eleventh season is more than just an evening of theatre. It's an invitation to come check out the company's spanking new performance space, the Colligan Theater, at the Tannery Arts Center.

Enter the complex from the main parking lot, and the Colligan is the first building to your left (next door to the Radius Art Gallery). With raked seating for 200 patrons above the stage (the incline is gradual, not nosebleed-steep), there are no bad sightlines.

And while the space seems enormous compared to JTC's previous venue, the microscopic Center Stage, it still feels intimate in terms of the viewer's relationship to the performers.

Christopher Reber and Julie James
 To inaugurate this new space, JTC mounts a production of the crowd-pleasing, vintage musical, Guys and Dolls. Originally produced in 1950, but set in the '30s, the show is based on the short stories of Damon Runyon, and populated by his usual cast of lovable Broadway denizens on the outskirts of respectability—gamblers, bookies, and chorus girls.

The JTC production is a bit slow out of the starting gate, but picks up steam in the second lap and gallops to a strong, exuberant finish.

The show features the ever-likable Christopher Reber as Nathan Detroit, David Ledingham as gambler Sky Masterson, Cornelia Burdick Thompson as straight-laced Salvation Army captain Sarah Brown, and JTC Artistic Director Julie James as showgirl Miss Adelaide (having a high old time with her Bronx accent and racy stage numbers like "Take Back Your Mink.")
Diana Torres Koss: Runyon-esque
But the best coup is casting JTC veteran Diana Torres Koss in the male sidekick role of Nicely Nicely. Her Runyon-esque patter, dialect, and attitude are perfect, and she delivers some of the best songs.

The property is a bit dated at times. Viewers may cringe at the comic subplot of Sky getting Sarah drunk to loosen her up (she thinks she's drinking a milkshake). But this is a family show, so he doesn't do anything but beam at her indulgently when she sings her big epiphany song.

Likewise cringe-worthy is the wheezy idea put forth in the ladies' duet ("Marry the Man") that all a woman wants to do is force a makeover on her man the minute he puts a ring on it.

But otherwise this lively production successfully launches JTC's new home.
(Read complete review in this week's Good Times)

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