As I write this—in February of 2010, for we think ahead here at the Observer—I've just seen the one musical I know isn't going to be produced in February 2011, a stellar production of Guys and Dolls. With its jazzy, complex rhythms, lyrics that make anyone sound smart and savvy, and a story line whose believability, if it ever existed, has long since disappeared into the mist, it was the perfect vehicle for hugely talented, energetic parents whose acting chops perhaps aren't 100 percent up to speed. The show was stolen, as Guys and Dolls usually is, by its Adelaide (Eva Rosenwald), and what she didn't steal was carried off by Lisa Harris's gorgeous voice in the quieter, sweeter role of Sarah Brown.
This year, the Players are tackling How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Rosenwald and Harris, who have been tag-teaming for years as female leads, have both dropped back to more minor parts; Caroline Huntoon plays Rosemary Pilkington, and Aviva Simonte is Hedy LaRue. How to Succeed, which opens on February 4, is set in a period newly mythologized by Mad Men. It's harder to love than Mad Men (or Guys and Dolls), but if a few hundred kids can't kick a little life into it, no one can.
[Originally published in February, 2011.]