Monday, March 2, 2009

Guys and Dolls


Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, book by Jo Swerling. Dir. Des McAnuff. Chor. Sergio Trujillo. Nederlander Theatre. (CLOSED)

Early reviews for Des McAnuff's new production of Guys and Dolls were harsh. Even including some later positive reviews, it is still one of the worst reviewed shows still running on Broadway, by our grading system. Most critics are wondering how McAnuff could go so wrong with a musical so right. They don't understand most of his decisions, namely to move the time period from the '50s to the Great Depression era and incorporate Damon Runyon, author of the stories on which the characters are based, as a silent character. With a few exceptions, most critics think Dustin O'Neill's projections are too busy. Of the four leads, all but two critics dislike Oliver Platt, finding him miscast and uncomfortable on the stage (Roger B. Harris of Theater News Online raves about his performance). Lauren Graham fares better, with some critics singling her out as the best in the production. The biggest complaint about Craig Bierko and Kate Jennings Grant, who most agree are the strongest in terms of singing ability, is their lack of chemistry. The critics are most divided on the success of Mary Testa's seven-minute role as General Cartwright--many find her to be one of the highlights in an altogether weak production and others find her too over-the-top and vulgar.

Theater News Online A
(Roger B. Harris) Don't expect me to explain why McAnuff et. al. chose Oliver Platt to play the esteemed entrepreneur of the oldest, reliable , floating crap game in New York, one Nathan Detroit, in this top-notch revival that just opened at the Nederlander Theatre. Just be glad they did. For Mr. Platt is wonderful in what can only be considered a stirring example of untraditional casting. Does he have the crumpled, born to play the part look that Sam Levene, the original Nathan in the 1950 Broadway production had? Does he have, whatever it was, Frank Sinatra had when he assayed the role in the 1955 movie version? Does he exude the pitch perfect comedic timing that Nathan Lane conveyed in the 1992 Broadway revival? A generous no must be rendered unto the questions. But Platt, he of the large frame and rubbery face, pulls it off. His Nathan is funny he's thoughtful and is a surprisingly competent singer. You get the feeling that this is one Nathan who really cares for his cupcake, Miss Adelaide. For this guy, the fourteen or four hundred times he's postponed their nuptials is just a question of business getting in the way of pleasure. You just know he'll see the error of his ways. ( And he does!)

Hartford Courant A-
(Malcolm Johnson) Not all of McAnuff's bright ideas are good ones. Putting Damon, a little man at a typewriter, on stage to represent the chronicler of Runyonland is a distraction. Overall though, this "Guys and Dolls" delivers a cascade of delights, including the arrival of that Broadway belter, Mary Testa, as Gen. Matilida B. Cartwright of the Salvation Army... Trujillo makes vivid, kinetic contributions to Act II. The big moments come in "The Crapshooter's Dance," in which the male dancers tumble and spin with superb athleticism. Bierko caps the number with a muscular "Luck Be a Lady." The second act also features "More I Cannot Wish You," touchingly rendered by Jim Ortlieb as Arvide Abernathy, Sarah's grandfather," and a lively duet for Platt and Graham on "Sue Me." But the big number is "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," lustily belted by Tituss Burgess, backed by a chorus of sinners, with Testa pitching her powerhouse soprano to the rafters. The lighting by Howell Binkley helps to create a striking picture of Broadway in the days when Runyon was a curious newspaperman. The chiaroscuro on Bierko's poetic treatment of "My Time of Day" gives a tangible sense of the city at night, and comes on the heels of the adventure in Havana, when Grant reels through "If I Were a Bell."

Talk Entertainment A-
(Oscar E Moore) The three tiered, on stage orchestra - much like a nightclub band of the thirties (the new time period for the show – which makes for some fun costumes by Paul Tazewell) remains hidden behind a screen where the controversial video projections (Dustin O’Neill) which are an integral part of the amazingly creative set (Robert Brill) are viewed. Some have reported they cause motion sickness. I thought they were terrific. So, good score and good production values. Now we come to the cast. The delightful surprise is Lauren Graham – of “Gilmore Girls”. Who would have ever imagined that she would make such a memorable Adelaide – the long suffering fiancĂ©e, engaged to Nathan Detroit for fourteen years, who works at singing and stripping while waiting for the ring to be placed on her lonely finger. She is sensational and lights up the stage whenever she is on with her comic timing and clear as a bell voice. One of the best numbers is “Take Back Your Mink” (choreographed by Sergio Trujillo – whose other dances are pulsating with sex and athleticism). She alone is reason to see Guys and Dolls.

New Yorker B+
(John Lahr) Once McAnuff stops competing with the musical's ingeniousness and settles down to serve the story, all is pretty much well. He nails "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," the show's eleven-o'clock number by making Nicely Nicely (Tituss Burgess) strut his gospel stuff on a row of empty chairs. Gleeful, rousing, and eye-popping, the staging is McAnuff at his inventive best... Platt's understated ambivalence is a good match for Graham's emotional full-court press. As the blond and frazzled Adelaide, who suffers from psychosomatic sneezing for lack of a marriage license, Graham makes a terrific Broadway debut; she is a potent combination of sweetness and sexuality.

Financial Times B-
(Brendan Lemon) The conventional wisdom: "Guys and Dolls" is so sure-fire that a producer could shove trained canaries into this 1950 show about two-bit gamblers by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and come up lucky. Songbirds could probably sing with more consistent freshness than some of the warblers in Des McAnuff’s new Broadway staging. But we go to "Guys and Dolls" less for purveyors of pristine pitch than for a sense of raffish joy, and by this criterion the production delivers, if more solidly in the second act than in the first...So where do the joys reside? In Dustin O’Neill’s video design, in which giant rear-stage projections ingeniously match the turning of more conventional sets and provide a nifty, non-realistic evocation of a New York where a hot dog cost a nickel, newspapers were a growth industry and everyone wore a hat.

Bloomberg News B-
(Jeremy Gerard) The dice throwing is launched by the “Crapshooters’ Dance,” an acrobatic, all-male ballet choreographed by Sergio Trujillo with humor, athleticism and swing. In quick order come Nathan’s confrontation with Chicago gangster Big Jule and Sky’s great Act II number, “Luck Be a Lady.” It’s about half an hour of pure Broadway joy in one of the best shows in the canon, and well worth the wait...
McAnuff, who scored a hit with “Jersey Boys,” is well served by Robert Brill’s Edward Hopperish settings. But Paul Tazewell’s costumes -- with the exception of the sexy outfits for the Hot Box Girls -- are homely for the men and women alike.
And yet: If you know “Guys and Dolls” only from the 1955 film, you really should see this revival: The film dropped the gorgeous ballad, “More I Cannot Wish You,” which Sarah’s protector, Arvide, sings to her. Crooned here with great tenderness by Jim Ortlieb, it’s one more good thing about the show.

Entertainment Weekly C+
(Thom Geier) Where does the show go astray? I've got the horse right here: It starts with the guys. Oliver Platt is an actor of many talents, but he's no one's idea of a musical comedy star. He seems adrift playing marriage-shy gambling impresario Nathan Detroit, caroming in and out of accents, sometimes within the same sentence. At times, he plays Nathan as a petulant 5-year-old boy; at others, as a savvy street-wise fella. Craig Bierko, as smooth gambling ace Sky Masterson, is on surer musical footing (he has a thin but confident voice), but he too seems miscast. It's hard to believe that a guy as self-absorbed as Bierko's Sky has much time for romance, let alone actually falling in love.

CurtainUp C+
(Simon Saltzman) Five will get you ten that you will not see a production with more visual excitement this season. In Act II there is an awesome scenic transition from street to sewer for the big and brilliantly danced crap game that will blow you away. Perched on three levels at the back of the stage, the orchestra, under the musical direction of Ted Sperling, revs up an audience that is quick to respond affirmatively not only to the musicians' visibility but also to the familiar and beloved melodies. The overture, enhanced with the sounds of the city, segues directly into the exhilaratingly staged opening scene that provides glimpses of "the devil's own city" a dingy pool hall, gambling den, and the interior of a bank wherein a robbery is in progress. Book-ended by the added on presence of Runyon (Raymond Del Barrio, who is also in the dancing ensemble) sitting at his desk typing out "Broadway Stories" the show is quickly turned over to the show's familiar characters. It's a promising start for what turns out to be an otherwise disappointing and inexplicably humorless production.

Lighting & Sound America C+
(David Barbour) The current production has been criticized for being overdesigned and under-acted, charges that are not surprising in a Des McAnuff production. The director's two big hits -- The Who's Tommy and Jersey Boys -- are exciting, visually striking conceptions, but neither one is loaded with memorable characters or star-making performances. (Tommy is more like an oratorio than a book musical; Jersey Boys' use of multiple narrators tends to keep the audience at a slight distance, and its playlist of Four Seasons hits doesn't move the story forward or illuminate character.) Neither show is particularly comic and neither one features the kind of musical number that puts a character's heart on display, for all the world to see. Such experiences, however successful, provide little guidance when staging Guys and Dolls, a classic screwball comedy about the low-lifes and soul-savers of mid-20th-century Times Square. While it's fun to wonder what a Kathleen Marshall or Rob Ashford might have done with this material, I hasten to add that the current production has its pleasures -- as long as you know what you're getting into.

USA Today C
(Elyse Gardner) Imagine having dinner in a fabulous restaurant with two couples. One pair is delightfully witty and has sizzling chemistry; the other two seem so awkward that it's almost painful to be with them. That's something akin to the uneven, frustrating experience offered by the new revival of Guys and Dolls that opened Sunday at the Nederlander Theatre. In fairness to the awkward couple — stars Oliver Platt and Lauren Graham — their characters, bumbling gambler Nathan Detroit and his long-suffering squeeze Miss Adelaide, aren't elegant types... Craig Bierko's Sky is robust and dangerously sexy, but not so slick that we can't laugh at him or recognize the vulnerability and decency behind his easy swagger. As Sarah Brown, the repressed missionary whom Sky pursues on a bet, Kate Jennings Grant is a revelation, juggling the unruffled poise of an old-school movie heroine with a loosey-goosey sass and exquisite comic timing. Sadly, Sky and Sarah aren't the focus for more than a couple of scenes at a time. It doesn't help that the supporting cast is inconsistent, or that Des McAnuff's direction can suffer from acute cuteness.

Globe and Mail C
(J. Kelly Nestruck) Des McAnuff's flashy new Broadway revival of the show certainly proves the musical's resilience - it can survive miscast B-list stars as well, not to mention uneven direction... Paul Tazewell's costumes are gaudy (the men's clashing suits, anyway), while Robert Brill's oversized neon signs probably play better from the back of the balcony. (McAnuff often seems to ignore what Brill has set up for him, so we see a bank robber break back into a bank with his stolen loot, or Sarah end an argument with Sky in the mission by, er, walking back into the mission.) Dustin O'Neill's dizzying video design, which takes us through New York in animations, gives it all a vague The Sims: Guys and Dolls edition feeling. All things considered, McAnuff has rolled a winner here - but if the Guys and Dolls dice weren't so loaded in any director's favour, he might have crapped out.

Time Out New York C-
(Adam Feldman) When you see a guy heave a long-winded sigh, you can bet that he’s coming from Guys and Dolls. When a bum buys tix that a bum can’t afford, it seems fair that the bum get something less rum on the way called Broad-. When a movie slob gets a leading-man job, and you wish they had gone through more casting calls: Call it dumb, call it clever—but it’s a so-so endeavor, this uneven revival of Guys and Dolls.

Associated Press C-
(Michael Kuchwara) What's missing in this ambitious production, which opened Sunday at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre, is the raffish charm — and more importantly — the brash humor of Damon Runyon's stories about the high and low-life denizens of Times Square. This "Guys and Dolls" certainly looks glitzy enough, thanks to Robert Brill's neon-inundated settings and the dizzy, ever-moving video backdrops, mostly of New York, by Dustin O'Neill. Theatergoers who suffer from motion sickness are hereby warned. Give McAnuff credit for not attempting a mausoleum-like replication. He frames the busy evening with Runyon himself, sitting down at a typewriter and pounding out the story of Mission doll Sarah Brown and her involvement with unrepentant gambler Sky Masterson.

Theatermania C-
(Andy Propst) Given the production's dichotomous tone, it's little surprise that the show's leads turn in uneven and contradictory performances. As Nathan Detroit, who spends much of the show trying to find a place to hold the floating crap game he runs, Oliver Platt initially seems to be channeling both Nathan Lane (who starred in the last Broadway revival of this show) and Harvey Fierstein. It's a curious combination that evens out in the second act, when Nathan's on the ropes with Adelaide (Lauren Graham), a hoofer who's been his fiancé for 14 years. Graham, wisely forgoing the nasal little girl voice that has long been Adelaide's hallmark and looking stunning in Paul Tazewell's often whimsical period costumes, fares somewhat better. There's a sort of dimwitted cleverness at work in her performance that endears. Alongside this comic on-and-off romance is the unlikely one between Sarah (Kate Jennings Grant), of the "Save a Soul Mission," and gambler Sky Masterson (Craig Bierko). Both Grant and Bierko sing some of Loesser's most sumptuous love songs with beauty and power, but elsewhere their performances vacillate curiously. Grant wavers between strident steeliness and sappy dewiness, making Sarah seem almost schizophrenic. As Sky, who's bet that he can get this "doll" to go to Havana with him, Bierko is less variable, but his efforts to deliver Sky's more sensitive side occasionally seem at odds with the character's more hardnosed traits.

The Hollywood Reporter D+
(Frank Scheck) Oliver Platt would seem to be perfect casting for the boisterous Nathan, but though he usually brings an outsized charisma to his roles, he's strangely subdued and ineffective here. Craig Bierko's bland Sky Masterson lacks the terrific flair he brought to the title role in the Broadway revival of "The Music Man," while Kate Jennings Grant is perfectly fine but unmemorable in the least showy role of Sarah Brown. Only Lauren Graham ("Gilmore Girls"), here making her Broadway debut, fully captures the magic of the material, infusing her portrayal with a touching and comic vulnerability that is endlessly entertaining. She's perhaps also the sexiest Miss Adelaide ever, revealing her shapely body in a series of scanty costumes.

New York Post D+
(Elisabeth Vincentelli) This production of Frank Loesser's masterpiece is a puzzle, all right: How can something so zippy be so tedious? As his megahit "Jersey Boys" showed, McAnuff is great at keeping things moving. He smoothly segues from Nathan and Adelaide's scenes to the show's other star-crossed couple, gambler Sky Masterson (Craig Bierko) and Save-a-Soul do-gooder Sarah Brown (Kate Jennings Grant), and makes colorful use of the flashy showgirls and small-time crooks Damon Runyon, on whose stories the book is based, so vividly brought to life. But McAnuff just can't ratchet up the energy at crucial times, a problem that's particularly glaring since "Guys and Dolls" is packed with fantastic songs. Typically, when Mary Testa's Gen. Cartwright hijacks "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," her rude 10-second eruption slaps the audience awake and into spontaneous applause. If only the central foursome could deliver this kind of shame less old- school stage craft. Part of the blame must lay with McAnuff - did he give his cast any direction at all?

Variety D
(David Rooney) Fronted by four likable leads whose collective charisma never rises above medium wattage, the production sucks the personality out of an American musical-theater classic. The consolation is that even in this misconceived presentation, the show itself is too good not to be at least minimally entertaining... A central obstacle is the design concept. As he showed in "Jersey Boys" and "The Farnsworth Invention," McAnuff loves his scaffolding. Working with designer Robert Brill, he has crowded the Nederlander stage with signage, structural beams and other setpieces that do battle with Dustin O'Neill's busy blur of projections, depicting random cityscape elements and location details. But this combo of digital and traditional sets has been integrated more seamlessly and with greater precision even in "The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular." The fussy video input constantly pulls focus, overwhelming the actors and snuffing out both the human drama and the comedy. It's a nocturnal playground that's all technology, no magic.

Wall Street Journal D-
(Terry Teachout) Never underestimate the power of a director to louse up a good show. That's what Des McAnuff has done to "Guys and Dolls," a pop-culture masterwork so bulletproof that it's never failed to make its effect, even when performed by amateurs -- until now. Mr. McAnuff, the director of "Jersey Boys," has taken Frank Loesser's timeless tale of New York in the '30s and turned it into a shrink-wrapped, over-designed piece of high-dollar plastic that belongs in a warm-weather theme park, not on Broadway. What we have here, I suspect, is yet another case of a revival whose makers didn't trust their material. Viewed in a dim light, after all, "Guys and Dolls" can look like a faded period piece, a backward glance at a long-lost Broadway that was already more than half gone when the show opened six decades ago, a land of crapshooting sharpies in snap-brimmed hats who prowled the streets in search of action. Hence Mr. McAnuff's cluttered, noisy staging, in which the actors cavort before a giant screen on which an ever-changing stream of glossy images of New York is digitally projected. You can barely see the cast for the scenery, or hear the score through Bruce Coughlin's buffed-up, smoothed-out orchestrations.

NY1 D-
(Roma Torre) Talent notwithstanding, and there is a lot of it, this "Guys and Dolls" is so leaden and uninspired, it might as well be called "Men and Women." The principal performers are one part of the problem--they're a mixed bag of musical novices and miscasting... The bigger complaint rests with director Des McAnuff, whose vision seems downright tone-deag. Paced badly, the production feels forced and slow.

The New York Times D-
(Ben Brantley) How bizarre, then, that the show feels so static, as if paralyzed by self-consciousness. Nearly all the performers — from stars to chorus — approach their roles eagerly but diffidently, as if they would like to get to know the characters they play but are afraid of being rejected. Such tentativeness creates the impression of an entire cast of understudies, who have the technical qualifications for their parts but no natural affinity. This means that the sui generis style of communication known as Runyonese — a mix of courtly formality, tough-guy vernacular and pretzel-shape sentences — is spoken here as if it were a second language, dotted with implicit question marks that seem to ask, “Am I getting this right?” (Nathan Detroit’s key henchmen, played by Tituss Burgess and Steve Rosen, have such disconcertingly different deliveries of this lingo, it’s as if they’ve been spliced into the same frame from movies of different periods.)

The Record F+
(Robert Feldberg) The evening starts off with a dark and edgy dance number, and includes prostitutes, violence and not one, but two strip-tease routines. But "Guys and Dolls" was not intended to portray bad old Times Square. It's a sweet comic fantasy, with lifelike, though not real, characters in a make-believe world. From the drab, underwhelming presentation of "Fugue for Tinhorns" ("I got the horse right here ..."), which introduces us to this fanciful universe of Broadway gamblers with oddly formal speech patterns, it's obvious we aren't in for a treat comparable to the bright and funny 1992 "Guys and Dolls" revival... The surrounding gamblers are the most unconvincing group I've ever seen. Instead of a bunch of quirky-looking, individualized street characters, the youthful, expressionless, would-be wise guys look exactly like the chorus dancers that they are.

The Daily News F+
(Joe Dziemianowicz) Des McAnuff, who directed the flatfooted new Broadway production, needed to take some things back, too. That includes the overdesigned sets, unflattering costumes, pretentious dance numbers and an undeveloped bit about Damon Runyon observing characters he created. He shows up in scenes like a Where's Waldo wanna-be. Instead of glitz and tricks, McAnuff would have been far better off casting leads who could sing Frank Loesser's dazzling songs in all their glory and vividly breathe life into the high-rollers and Holy Rollers created by Runyon and adapted by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

AM New York F+
(Matt Windman) In his expensive but unattractive production, McAnuff displays a total mistrust of the already pitch-perfect material by making countless awkward changes: the setting is shifted to 1935; headache-inducing computer-animation is projected against the set, actors leap in and out of the orchestra pit; and a new character based on Damon Runyon, who penned the short stories on which the musical is based, runs around taking notes... Unexpectedly, actors with much smaller roles like Jim Walton (Harry the Horse), Mary Testa (General Cartwright) and Steve Rosen (Benn Southstreet) steal the show because they actually understand how to perform old-fashioned comedy. Were it not for them, this “Guys and Dolls” would be a total loss.

Backstage F+
(Adam R. Perlman) McAnuff settles on something darker — but this is largely a matter of visuals, not interpretation. There's no deconstruction, no rethinking the blithe, powerful dance sequences, choreographed here without distinction by Sergio Trujillo. Instead, working with scenic designer Robert Brill, McAnuff gives us New York refracted through a cesspool, as if not only "Luck Be a Lady" but the entire evening were set in the sewer. The production's key visual is a massive LED wall, which replaces old-fashioned flats, drops, and trucks with a series of shockingly inept noirish CGI renderings that have the sophistication of a teenager playing around in the early '90s.

Newsday F+
(Linda Winer) In the crapshoot called Broadway, "Guys and Dolls" is as close as the theater gets to a sure thing. Or at least it seemed that way until Des McAnuff's tarted-up and dumbed-down revival opened last night at the handsomely remodeled Nederlander Theatre. Oddly cast and oppressively overproduced, the show is so busy with dizzying cinematic scenery, hard-edge choreography and updated musical arrangements that it's hard to find the people, much less the pulse. Almost lost in the spectacle is the Broadway debut by Lauren Graham, much admired as the single mom in TV's "Gilmore Girls." She plays Adelaide - long-awaiting fiancee of Nathan Detroit and adenoidal queen of the Hot Box Revue - with an understated twinkle and the well-timed bleat of a funny lamb.

New York Observer F+
(John Heilpern) It’s sad to report that the revival of the iconic 1950 Guys and Dolls, currently hitting us over the head with a meat cleaver at the Nederlander on Broadway, is extraordinarily disappointing. Whether the show will be a hit, only Mr. Gopnik’s penguins can say. The numbing effect it had on me was akin to listening to a fabulously witty story you adore being retold by someone with zero sense of humor... Any production of the show ought to have a certain style and period. This one’s a mess: The busy video work is contemporary, the props period, and the cityscape images are loudly pro-forma archival. The costumes appear to be 1930s, but Sergio Trujillo’s tense choreography presents a fiercely contemporary attitude. The unfocused production, which ought to be easeful, assaults the audience. It’s oversold, overproduced and overmiked. The brassy sound of the hidden onstage orchestra is at times ramped up way too loud. Yet Frank Loesser’s unmatchable score possesses an innate street vitality that should speak (and sing and swoon) for itself.

Village Voice F
(Michael Feingold) McAnuff's twitchy, incessant, visual blitzkrieg of a production makes it a tale of two cities: The characters may be rooted in midtown Manhattan, but the staging and design are pure Vegas—a Vegas that inexplicably screens a high-speed IMAX documentary of bygone New York 24/7. No scene is left unfidgeted with; even the title song gets interrupted by an elevated train rumbling overhead, though what Benny Southstreet and Nicely-Nicely Johnson would be doing on Third Avenue is anybody's guess... And what goes on at Joey Biltmore's garage while he's yakking with Nathan Detroit, I decline to describe; I'll just quote Kenneth Tynan on an analogous piece of directorial charm-killing: "Thus can poetry, in one gesture, become irrevocable prose."

Chicago Tribune F
(Chris Jones) Des McAnuff’s strangely cast, uncharacteristically insecure and weirdly unfunny revival—which features Oliver Platt as the perennial bachelor Nathan Detroit and “Gilmore Girl” Lauren Graham as Miss Adelaide—seems to have about six different concepts for this show, tries to do them all at once, and manages to make none of them land. This show partly wants to be a retro, day-glo revival--accounting for the massive amounts of period signage in the Nederlander Theatre (until recently the home of “Rent”). I’m not just speaking of the traditional marquees floating in the air. One huge sign has been planted in the theater itself, its named bulbs close enough to the seats to generate some heat. It wants to be a fresh, high-tech update—the main element in Robert Brill’s misguided set is a colossal screen, allowing for a cold, computer-generated look at period New York. F-
(Michael Criscuolo) On the flip side of the company's collective laziness is the nagging sensation that they all know they're working on a bad production and don't care enough about it—or the audience, for that matter—to, maybe, try and make it better. The result is like watching a bunch of apathetic office drones drag themselves to work on Monday morning: they don't want to be there, but they've got bills to pay, so they do the minimum amount necessary to keep from getting fired... All of Guys and Dolls's warmth and charm is absent here, held at bay by director Des McAnuff, who fails to embrace it. The rock 'n' roll razzmatazz that has made many of his previous Broadway productions successes ill suits a show of this vintage. The open-hearted sentiments expressed in Loesser's lovely songs seem to make McAnuff uncomfortable, and his direction reflects that. It's as if he's fighting a misanthropic urge to make fun of the show the whole way through, a fight that he doesn't always win: the production is laden with a collection of dubious Noo Yawk accents and weighed down by cartoonish production design that suggests what Warren Beatty's film of Dick Tracy might look like if it were a Vegas floor show.

Talkin' Broadway F-
(Matthew Murray) One wonders if McAnuff has been blinded by his recent experiences trying to jolt to life underwritten titles such as Dracula and Jersey Boys (truly succeeding with the latter), and ignored the dangers of what that can do to a show that doesn’t need the help. His idea of energy is Dustin O’Neill’s ugly video backdrops, which render this Guys and Dolls’s New York both unduly busy and one-dimensional when they’re not inspiring motion sickness. What he needed to do instead was inspire his cast to kinetic greatness, to help them unlock the frantic hearts that pursue profit and the opposite sex with equal abandon. That’s the only way to do true justice to Swerling, Burrows, Loesser, and - yes - Runyon himself.

Theater News Online A 13; Hartford Courant A- 12; Talk Entertainment A- 12; New Yorker B+ 11; Financial Times B- 9; Bloomberg News B- 9; Entertainment Weekly C+ 8; CurtainUp C+ 8; Lighting & Sound America C+ 8; USA Today C 7; Globe and Mail C 7; TONY C- 6; AP C- 6; Theatermania C- 6; The Hollywood Reporter D+ 5; New York Post D+ 5; Variety D 4; WSJ D- 3; NY1 D- 3; The New York Times D- 3; The Record F+ 2; The Daily News F+ 2; AMNY F+ 2; Backstage F+ 2; Newsday F+ 2; NY Observer F+ 2; Village Voice F 1; Chicago Tribune F 1; F- 0; Talkin' Broadway F- 0; TOTAL: 159/30 = 5.3 (D+)

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