Theater stage

The College-Conservatory of Music’s musical theater program takes audiences back to 1940s New York City with a Broadway classic, “Guys and Dolls,” running now through Oct. 27. In the musical, gambler Nathan Detroit oversees the setup of a “floating craps game” but cannot afford the rent of the venue. He decides to bet Sky Masterson, an experienced and successful gambler, to take a girl of Nathan’s choosing on a date. As is expected in most Old Hollywood stories, love gets in the way.

From the moment the curtain rises, audiences are met with the raw beauty of the set. The stunning visuals only get better as the actors cross in perfect 1940s fashion. The show starts with a ballet of sorts, depicting a day in the city. There are famous athletes out and about, street performers, gangsters and more wandering throughout the cityscape. The storytelling in this number, as well as the Crapshooter’s Dance in Act II, were exquisite. Choreographer and director Diane Lala, along with the brilliant ensemble, paints a clear yet remarkably entertaining visual for the audience to advance the plot.

There were several show-stopping numbers. The most notable of these is arguably the Crapshooter’s Dance, as well as the famous “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.” The former helps to illustrate the craps game while showing off the insane amount of male choreography talent that CCM has. The latter shows off the cast’s impeccable comedic timing, as well as the vocal capabilities of Nick Berninger who played Nicely-Nicely Johnson, a sidekick of Nathan Detroit. Between the creative chair choreography, classic melody and clever lyrics, the number is a sure hit.

Like all Golden Age musicals, there are a handful of love songs. The duet “I’ll Know,” sung between Sky and his love interest, Christian mission leader Sarah Brown, was a strong highlight of the show. In this number, the audience sees the characters begin taking an interest in one another. Senior musical theater student Frankie Thams plays Sky Masterson. Thams is the perfect leading man, possessing great charm and a strong command of the stage with a gorgeous voice to match. His connection with fellow senior Aria Braswell, who played Sarah, is truly enchanting. Braswell brings such light and spunk to the mission leader, and her stunning soprano voice fills the theater.

The other couple in the show, Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit, were played in the Oct. 19 performance by Anya Axel and Matt Copely. Adelaide and Nathan have been engaged for 14 years, and Nathan continually tries to postpone the wedding. Axel and Copely are very believable in their roles and play flawlessly off each other. Both performers get to showcase their comedic talent — a treat for audiences.

“Guys and Dolls” makes for a perfect night of classic, Golden Age, Broadway-caliber fun. From the extraordinary sets and costumes to the immeasurable talent, audiences are sure to find themselves forgetting that they are watching students, and not well-credited professionals. Head to CCM this week to catch an incredible show you won’t want to miss.


Anne Simendinger has been with The News Record since 2017 as a staff reporter, digital producer, and life and arts editor. She is the Cincinnati senior editor for BroadwayWorld and the Scripps Howard Communication Intern for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati.