Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Whiddon and Bobbitt have gathered a cast well equipped to navigate the streets of Damon Runyon's fantasy version of 1940s Times Square: determinedly non-threatening gamblers and small-time hoods who would never carry a gun, a ladies' man who would never misuse a vulnerable woman, and a brassy nightclub star who dreams of domesticity, all of whom speak in a ridiculously elegant version of street vernacular. What's not to enjoy?
As Nathan Detroit, proprietor of "the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York," Paul Binotto is amusingly frantic. A small man, Binotto is in a constant state of agitation, whether he's cajoling a garage owner to let him use the garage for the crap game or trying to persuade his "well-known fiancée," Miss Adelaide (Lauren Weinberg), to wait a little longer for marriage than the 14 years she's already waited. Weinberg is a delightful Adelaide who stands by Nathan even when he's driving her crazy and never loses her sense of dignity.
Matt Faucher is smooth and confident as Sky Masterson and Jessica Lauren Ball is a lovely Sarah Brown, shifting from a buttoned-up soprano in the early scenes to a killer dancer in the Havana sequence. Other standouts are round-faced Tobias Young as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Richard Pelzman, who towers over the rest of the cast, as the intimidating Chicago mobster Big Jule.
Dan Conway's scenic design carries on the old-fashioned atmosphere, using a flat back wall representing the New York City skyline and two-dimensional drops of marquees, street signs, and other landmarks. Balconies at the sides of the proscenium represent settings in Havana and in the New York sewers, while the floor space is open to accommodate the bodies flying through the air and tangling with each other that are part of Bobbitt's dances. Rosemary Pardee's costumes and Colin K. Bills' lighting add to the reality of Runyonland.
The eight accomplished musicians, led by pianist Doug Lawler, sit at the back of the stage, always present but not intrusive.
Olney Theatre Center