5 reasons to see La Comedia’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ and other notable arts news



La Comedia Dinner Theatre delivers a highly entertaining, vocally winning production of Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows’ classic 1950 musical comedy “Guys and Dolls.” Here are five reasons to see this lighthearted tale of romance and gambling in New York City.

1. Delightful drunken haze

As uptight, Bible-believing missionary Sarah Brown, lovely soprano Emily Brennan lets loose with delightful abandon opposite charismatic Elliot Handkins (gambler Sky Masterson) in “If I Were A Bell.” Capturing the credibility of Sarah’s Havana transformation with playful physicality (arms flailing, toddler-esque scorn), Brennan totally leans into the fun, slick genius of composer Loesser’s comical ode to alcohol.

2. ‘Lament’ peppered with humor and rage

Allison Gabert’s energetic, feisty and perky portrayal of nightclub star Adelaide is fittingly personified in “Adelaide’s Lament,” a moment of crucial introspection considering Adelaide’s engagement to gambler Nathan Detroit (strong vocalist Cole Fletcher) has lasted 14 years. Exhibiting sharp, personable comedic timing with appropriate rage swelling toward the conclusion, Gabert reveals a woman finally and truthfully at her wits’ end.



3. Harmonic showmanship

It doesn’t take long to know this production contains some of the best male vocal talent ever assembled at La Comedia. In the fabulous “Fugue For Tinhorns,” immediately following the opening depiction of “Runyonland,” Paul Hernandez (Nicely-Nicely Johnson), Dylan Jackson (Benny Southstreet) and Colin Cranstoun (Rusty Charlie) conversationally harmonize to perfection. Hernandez and Jackson notably partner again for a first-rate rendition of the breezy title song, and there’s joy in the male ensemble’s robust a cappella blend at the conclusion of “The Oldest Established” as well.

4. Encore-worthy moment

Hernandez’s terrific rendition of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” becomes a thrilling testimonial that doesn’t oversell the song or diminish the work of the excellent ensemble, choreographed by director Chris Beiser. I saw an exuberant revival of “Guys and Dolls” last fall in London’s West End which featured multiple encores of this number to roof-raising effect. Hernandez, a radiant tenor with soul, is deserving of the same opportunity.

Credit: Russell Florence

Credit: Russell Florence

5. Banana bonanza

An added bonus is the Banana Pudding Parfait complete with crunchy vanilla wafers and topped with whipped cream. It’s a simple, savory treat.

Guys and Dolls continues Thursday, Friday and Sunday matinees and Thursday-Sunday evenings through March 24 at La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro. Tickets are $70-$79. 937-746-4554 or lacomedia.com.

Here’s what else you should know right now:



Dayton Live announces 2024-2025 Broadway lineup

Dayton Live’s Premier Health 2024-2025 Broadway season is an impressive slate, specifically for a market our size. It’s certainly great to have “Hamilton” again (and in less than two years) but there’s sure to be major interest in “Six” and “MJ The Musical” as well. I expected “Beetlejuice” or “Moulin Rouge!” would be in the mix instead of “A Beautiful Noise” but it’s still a very strong season overall.



‘Barefoot in the Park’ comes to Fairborn

Neil Simon’s classic 1963 romantic comedy “Barefoot in the Park” will be presented by Actor’s Theatre Fairborn through March 10. Set in New York City, the play concerns a newlywed couple navigating the ups and downs of marriage.

“I love the play’s snappy dialogue and the opportunity to dive deep into character,” says Brandon Shockney, who portrays Paul Bratter. “This play presented a nice challenge for me to balance comedy with an emotional center.”

Under the direction of Craig Smith, the cast includes Katie Waid as Corie Bratter, Dawn Roth-Smith as Ethel Banks, Ted Eltzroth as Victor Velasco and Ron Clyburn as Harry Pepper.

“I feel ‘Barefoot in the Park’ remains a timeless classic because it offers a charming glimpse into the past while exploring the enduring theme of love’s transformative nature,” says Roth-Smith, who portrays Corie’s mother. “The characters, though slightly exaggerated, feel genuine and relatable, adding depth to the humor. Neil Simon’s skillful writing continues to captivate audiences, making it a perennial favorite.”

Shockney, who has previously performed with Beavercreek Community Theatre, Dayton Playhouse and Dayton Theatre Guild, hopes audiences appreciate the play’s endearing universality.

“At its core, no matter what kind of relationship someone is in, they can look at this couple at pull something from it,” he says. “This show is a universal representation of relationships and how they change and evolve.”

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $17.50. For tickets or more information, visit actorstheatrefairborn.org. Actor’s Theatre is located at 23 E. Main St. in Fairborn.

Right Now with Russell spotlights arts and entertainment news every Friday and as news arises. From the latest in local arts to the latest in film, music, TV, theater, awards season and other hot button topics, the goal is to fill you in on what’s new in order to satisfy your entertainment cravings. He can be reached at Russell.Florence@coxohio.com.

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