Herndon High School's recent production of "Guys and Dolls" was performed, to borrow from one of the more memorable character's trademark lines, "nicely-nicely, thank you." Choosing blocking that for the most part was not too flashy or intricate, the performance relied on the upbeat score, contagious songs, and polished singing of a vocally talented cast to keep the show simple, but enjoyable.
This does not mean that their show lacked enthusiasm or creativity. The performance featured an exceptional orchestra with a particularly talented horn section that did such famous numbers as "Luck Be a Lady Tonight" justice. Set designer Caryn Lescarbeau created a well decorated, versatile set that had just the right amount of color and character complementing the performance without taking away from the actors, and, thanks to a speedy running crew headed by Sammi Shoemaker, didn't take away from the running time either. Along with some realistic old-age make-up by Adam Douglass, perfectly subtle mood lighting, and spotlights that never missed a cue, the show's designers and technical team managed to expertly walk the line between being too elaborate, or too stark.
While technical aspects certainly have a major impact on a performance, in a musical, singing and dancing is everything. In the lead roles of high-roller Sky Masterson, the earnestly angelic Sarah Brown, and the incorrigible schemer Nathan Detroit, Keenan Hoffmann, Cathy Crotty, and Evan Vosburgh, respectively, sang with feeling and energy that didn't disappoint the numerous audience members who have long been fans of the show. Crotty, in particular, put the comedy in musical comedy with her inebriated rendition of "If I Were a Bell;" one of the highlights of the evening.
The audience favorite had to be Laura Dunlap as Miss Adelaide, the
sneezing, squeaky voiced, long-suffering fiancee of the commitment fearing Detroit. Dunlap stole the show with her signature nasally whine, which she still managed to make lucid enough so all of her lines were understood, even when singing. When performing with an ensemble of "Hot Box Girls", she made songs like "Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink" crowd pleasers, and when paired with Crotty for the number, "Marry the Man", the two of them made the often forgotten song the favorite of the evening.
Herndon ended their show Friday evening to a standing ovation. A feat which, considering how often "Guys and Dolls" is performed, speaks for itself.