- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

The 1950s musical comedy "Guys and Dolls" with Maurice Hines as Nathan Detroit is a colorful and energetic production. A few timing problems and other glitches interfered on opening night at Wolf Trap, but overall the 26-member cast delivers old favorites such as "Luck Be a Lady" with competence.
This is the same show — with much of the same cast — that Arena Stage produced to rave reviews nearly two years ago.
However, as good as the musical arrangements are, they lack the pop and pizazz that make music from the '50s really swing.
Mr. Hines is charming as the craps player and love interest of thick-accented Miss Adelaide (Alexandra Foucard). His dance numbers are strong (but too few) and his lines are delivered with as much body language — he specializes in a certain wide-eyed look and a jerky cocking of his head — as vocal power.
Miss Foucard has half a dozen costume changes, from sexy-showgirl garb to bridal gown, and looks adorable in all of them. Her voice is strong and sometimes beautiful. But, more often, she uses a piercingly shrill voice that at the end of the show unpleasantly rings in the ears.
The comedy's other lovers are the unlikely couple, gambler Sky Masterson (Brian Sutherland) and Save-a-Soul Mission sergeant Sarah Brown (Diane Sutherland, who is married to Brian). The Sutherlands, especially Miss Sutherland, are skilled performers but seem bland in comparison with Mr. Hines and Miss Foucard.
The story carries the characters from the streets of New York City to Havana and from the Save-a-Soul headquarters to the city sewers. Scenic designer Norbert Kolb does a great job in transforming the stage from red, hot Havana to bustling New York with neon advertising signs.
But the most elaborate set is the sewer, the setting for a craps game organized by Mr. Hines' character. It looks like a giant purple-and-green intestine inhabited by gangsters in colorfully striped suits (by Paul Tazewell). It's a virtual rainbow of human decay.
Among the dance numbers — choreographed by Ken Roberson — "Havana" and "Luck Be a Lady," which accompany the sewer craps game are the strongest. "Take Back Your Mink," sung and danced by Miss Foucard and the other show girls, is neither sexy nor cute. It just falls flat.
Among the most memorable roles are those of Clent Bowers as. the big and (relatively) nice-guy gangster Nicely-Nicely Johnson, with his heavenly pipes, and Carlos Lopez as Harry the Horse, the ultimate bad guy.
While mostly energetic, the 21/2-hour musical comedy, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, has a few lulls, especially in the longer first act. In one scene, the audience has to wait for Mr. Sutherland's character to get a drink at a bar before Mr. Bowers can finish delivering his line.
The performance, although entertaining and professional, lacks the kind of explosive drama and musical crescendos that would have made us fall in love like never before.

**-1/2
WHAT: "Guys and Dolls"
WHERE: Wolf Trap's Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna
WHEN: 2 and 8 p.m. today and tomorrow
TICKETS: $18 to $55
PHONE: 703/218-6500 or www.wolftrap.orgMAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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