Guys and Dolls

Show of the week

BABE IN ARMS  Grant relaxes into Bierko’s embrace.

BABE IN ARMS Grant relaxes into Bierko’s embrace. Photograph: Carol Rosegg

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

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.

Frank Loesser’s swirling 1950 score burrows its way into your brain just like that: This tour of Damon Runyon--land is one of the great musicals of all time. But in Des McAnuff’s production, busy animated backdrops can’t provide the color that is leached from the central comic couple. Oliver Platt hasn’t mustered the heymish verve essential to his role as craps-game organizer Nathan Detroit; and as his long-deferred fiance, Miss Adelaide, the adorable Lauren Graham—or Moll Flounders, as I came to think of her—plays awkward dress-up in an ill-suited part.

Few things are more enervating than watching good material deflate. But the losses of the maladroit Detroit plot are partly offset by a winning streak on the romantic side of the show. Kate Jennings Grant has a delightful screwball elegance as the prim reformer Sarah Brown, and Craig Bierko works all his charms as her swain, the footloose gambler Sky Masterson. There are other strong ingredients here as well: solid supporting performances (notably Steve Rosen’s precise and flavorful Benny Southstreet) and moments of vibrant dance. For some audiences, the good stuff may even outweigh the longueurs, but Broadway prices are high stakes for a dicey proposition.—Adam Feldman

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Nederlander Theatre. Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Dir. Des McAnuff. With Oliver Platt, Lauren Graham, Craig Bierko, Kate Jennings Grant. 2hrs 35mins. No intermission.