'Guys & Dolls'

A Gamble Worth Taking

By Leslie Turner

Take a small band of drab blue missionaries roaming the streets of sin city looking for those vilest of sinners, the gamblers, to save their souls from the devil himself. Add a pack of rakish gents, Jersey accents one and all, whose only desire is to find a safe harbor for their floating crap game. Throw in a lot of song and dance, unfulfilled promises and a few unforgettable characters and what have you got? SOUNDS A LOT LIKE THE GREAT SOUTHERN INDIANA RIVER BOAT DEBATE, DOESN' T IT?!?

Ah, my friend, you are wrong! What you have is the basic premise of "Guys and Dolls," playing only through November 14 at the Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville. Considering the news of the day, this production could not have had better timing. With each side of our current boat issue depicted unwittingly in delightful caricature, "Guys and Do1ls" gives way to this most uncanny analogy with well-done renditions of "The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York," "Follow the Fold," "Luck Be a Lady," and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," to name a few!

Jon Huffman was the perfect rogue and could not have been any larger on stage as the hapless Nathan Detroit who finds his match in the not-so-dimwitted charm of Miss Adelaide, played delightfully by Barbara Cullen. I particular enjoyed the dancing antics of Nicely-Nicely, Benny, Rusty and the rest of the gang and numbers involving the entire cast were great fun.

Lee Buckholz and Colette Delaney were charming as ever in the lead romantic roles of Sky and Sarah, but some day I'd love to see these two cast in villainous, "you gotta hate me" roles to see some more acting range from them.

Left to right, Timm Charleton,Jon Huffman, Lee Buckholtz and Jim Hesselman

I took my 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter and both were captivated throughout and very glad I dragged them out of the house. My son particularly enjoyed the Hot Box Girls! There were so many strong moments it's hard to single one out, but Nathan and Adelaide's face-off during "Sue Me" stayed with me more than anything. Jim Hesselman deserves mention for his character development and cameo song as Nicely-Nicely. I've grown to appreciate his character acting over the past few seasons.

So – are you a Louisvillian who has watched with bemusement the rantings and ravings of your Indiana neighbors over the Riverboat Gambling issue? Or are you perhaps a Floyd or Clark Countian who's been wounded in the fight? Soon after this article hits the streets, the ballots will have been cast and the decision made (at last). Whether your side wins or loses, you owe it to yourself to put it all in perspective by enjoying an evening with "Guys and Dolls."

This musical gives one a chance to laugh at oneself, or at all of us/them and in laughing to relax and get on with it. I'll give you 8-to-5 you'll love it!

Thanks, Derby Dinner, I needed that.

Reservations for "Guys and Dolls" may be made by calling 812-288-8281.

"The Sound of Music" moves into Derby Dinner on November 16 and runs through January 2. Call the ticket office at the above number for reservations.

Derby Dinner Playhouse is located at 525 Marriott Drive, Clarksville, Ind.

Left to right, Timm Charleton, Jon Huffman, Lee Buckholtz and Jim Hesselman.