The Bellarine Theatre Co. will be performing “Guys and Dolls” this weekend at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, located at 120 Long Beach Blvd. in the Loveladies section of Long Beach Township. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12; 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13; and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $18 for adults ($20 for VIP seating), $15 for seniors and students and $12 for children younger than 13. They may be purchased online at bellarinetheatre.com or by calling 609-661-2083.
Actually the Bellarine Theatre Co. will be performing “Guys and Dolls Jr.,” a condensed version of the show designed for its cast of students in grades five through nine. The production numbers are shorter; some dialogue has been cut; some of the less popular songs have been eliminated.
The plot line, though, is much the same: Nathan Detroit (Jonathan Leach) runs an illegal, long-running crap game. But his long streak may be ending. Sarah Brown (Nadia Jewel Vito), who is in charge of a local mission (along with the “Mission Girls” – Brianna D’Elia, Paige Fischer, Shayna Kenduck and Kendall Morgan), is warning gamblers of the evils of their ways and preaching repentance. One of New York’s Finest, Lt. Brannigan (Alexa Tabbacchino), is hot on Nathan’s heels as well. Meanwhile, Adelaide (Amanda Delbury), Nathan’s fiancée of 14 years who performs at the Hot Box (along with the “Hot Box Girls” – Elizabeth Critelli, Aly Landon, Mikaela McGovern and Krista Paciello), is getting sick of waiting on her wedding!
Nathan is desperate to find a secure, Brannigan-proof home for his crap game. The Biltmore Garage would fit the bill, but he needs to come up with $1,000 to rent it.
Big-time gambler Sky Masterson (Luke Suddeth) is in town. Can Nathan win his grand by sucker betting Sky?
He thinks he has a winning proposition when he bets the charismatic Sky that Masterson can’t take a certain woman on a trip to Havana. Sky, confident in his charm, accepts, only to find out that certain woman is the straitlaced Sarah.
Sarah, though, has a problem of her own. The head of her nationwide organization Save-a-Soul, Gen. Cartwright (Rachel Vasquez), tells her that unless she can start attracting more sinners to her mission, it will be closed. So when Sky promises he’ll bring in a dozen genuine sinners to her mission if she’ll accompany him to Cuba, she agrees.
But Sky falls in love with Sarah and tells Nathan he lost the bet, that he couldn’t convince Sarah to head to Havana with him. Meanwhile, in Sarah’s absence, Nathan moved his game into the mission. Upon her sudden, early-morning return she catches the gamblers in the act and thinks Sky was involved and rejects him.
Oh, boy! Can Nathan come up with his grand? Can Adelaide pin down the slippery Nathan in marriage? Will Sky win over Sarah? Will he produce his dozen sinners on demand? Will the mission close? Can the gamblers, such as Nicely-Nicely (Mitchell Critelli), Benny (Carmen Matarazzo), Harry the Horse (Connor Harris) and another (Jonathan Hughes, who also plays Sarah’s grandfather) escape with their lives after winning all of the gangster Big Jule’s (Philipp Seeger) money in the crap game?
Here are a few more questions: Can Bellarine’s tweens and young teens handle the complex “Runyonese” – that distinctive mixture of formal speech and street slang that Damon Runyon mastered in his short stories and that Abe Burrows so beautifully transposed to the book of “Guys and Dolls”? Can they tackle the tough street accents of the 1920s and 1930s? Can they hit the notes of Frank Loesser’s upbeat songs such as “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”?
Here’s a hint – wait until you see and hear Delbury’s Miss Adelaide. A star is born!
A special preview of the show is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. It is designed for an audience of families and friends with children or adults with special needs such as autism spectrum disorder and/or other sensitivity issues. Bellarine promises the preview, which is free, will be performed “in a friendly, supportive environment, with slight adjustments to the production, including the reduction of any jarring sounds or lights focused into the audience.” Guests for this performance are urged to RSVP by emailing Bellarine founder and artistic director Jessica Huch at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 609-661-2083.