Wednesday, 15 August 2018

BLR has come to the end of the 2017-2018 Theatre Season

All the basic condition theatre requires is that fire last night & those costumes 
& the human voice & people gathered together.  
Sir Trevor Nunn, Director (Cats, 1981 \ Les Miserables, 1985)

After reviewing 53 shows in the greater Vancouver region since October 1 of last year, time has come to take a wee furlough until the 2018-2019 season kicks off this fall. My appreciation and heartfelt Thanks! to all who are both regular and occasional readers of this blogsite.

A special Fare thee well! wish to Ryan Mooney who after 11 consecutive seasons orchestrating Fighting Chance Productions is taking a sabbatical for the next year to travel and consider "what next" might be on the horizon for him.

Also my thanks to Bill Millerd, now Artistic Director Emeritus of Arts Club Theatre, for having introduced me to his troupe on Seymour Street with Jacques Brel back in the 70's and for the company's ongoing support of BLR since its launch in 2012.

W. Baird Blackstone
Broken Leg Reviews
Rumors @ Crescent Beach is community-theatre summer silliness writ large
All the basic condition theatre requires is that fire last night & those costumes 
& the human voice & people gathered together.  
Sir Trevor Nunn, Director (Cats, 1981 \ Les Miserables, 1985)

From the footlights : Not all was sweetness and light in 1988 when Neil Simon's Rumors first hit the stage in NYC. HIV/AIDS deaths there exceeded 5,000. Crack cocaine had made its street debut. 750,000 acres in Yellowstone National Park were incinerated by fire. Ben Johnson briefly won the 100 metre dash in Seoul : scant hours later the steroid Stanazol exposed his Olympian betrayal.

For his part, Simon was going through a bad patch and wanted to lighten up his own life. As escape, the author of The Odd Couple wrote a farce, set it in a tony N.Y. suburb, and put his characters into evening dress. "I thought that was a nice counterpoint to the chaos that was happening on stage," he said, riffing about this batch of nouveau riche 40-somethings in their tuxes and fancy frocks. [I was 40-something then. In White Rock, evening dress for us was clean Levis atop semi-worn Adidas.] Simon's chaos includes the deputy mayor's apparent botched suicide attempt; his missing wife; rumors of hi-level sexcapades; a BMW car crash; coverups and evasions; keystone cops door-slams and ironic witty jibes galore.

Hi-octane foolishness trying to keep the lid on NYC Deputy Mayor's sketchy personal life is what drives this Neil Simon farce at the Beach House Theatre community stage at Crescent Beach. 

NYT critic Frank Rich points out that "farce [is] a form to be prized for its violent comic cataclysms, not for its psychological realism or depth". And whether or not Mr. Simon succeeds in stitching together his cartoon characters seamlessly, the Beach House Theatre production makes the most of the plot's japery and caricatures. 

How it's all put together : A 10th anniversary dinner celebration. Four couples have been invited to help the Deputy Mayor Charlie and his wife Myra celebrate. But when the first guests arrive -- lawyers Ken Gorman (Matt Falletta) and wife Chris (Janine Guy) -- they discover that not only is the dinner still uncooked, the hired help is nowhere to be found, neither are Charlie and Myra. Ken finds Chuck upstairs schlumped on Valium with a bullet hole in his ear. He and Chris conspire to be know-nothings about it all to "protect" Charlie's political reputation. The rest of the night they speculate with their mystified friends whether the sexcapade rumours are fake news or no. 

Original Rumors show poster from the NYC Broadhurst Theatre production in 1988.
Image from Wikipedia website.
When Lenny Ganz (Tom Gage) and wife Claire (Jenessa Galbraith) arrive on the scene, they are fresh from that car crash in their 2-day old BMW, rammed by a new-off-the-lot Porsche convertible. Lenny sports a contortionist's version of whiplash : but his mouth still revs at redline speeds. Soon come psychologist Ernie Cusack (James Walker) and his ditzy wife Cookie (Michelle Collier). Last through the door are wannabe state senator Glenn Cooper (Aran Davison) and wife Cassie (Jessica Tabak). Their last name should rightly be the Bickertons for all their constant kvetching at one another.

When Officer Carl Pudney (Gareth Owen) attends with partner Officer Gwen Welch (Rebekah MacEwan), what starts as a gritty grilling by Welch ends in capitulation to the tall tales Lenny -- masquerading as Charlie -- spins spontaneously about what all has been going on here. After much silliness and tomfoolery the cops finally abandon the guests and their wordy nonsense. Simon's show can now come to its goofy end (without us ever laying eyes on either Charlie or Myra).

2018 Beach House Theatre poster by Benjamin T. Stone lends just the right chaotic hues and tones for this Neil Simon one-off farce of a drawn-out dinner party gone not just tipsy but slightly mad.

Production values that hi-light the action : Beach House Theatre's setting on Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach is equal to or even exceeds what Bard on the Beach rightly brags about each year at its Vanier Park venue in Vancouver. The al fresco tent with its translucent ceiling looking northwest over Mud Bay at sunset is truly spectacular. Breanne Harmon's swan song living room set after six seasons with BHT is just the right mix of muted blue-grey walls offset by gobs of white : doors and asymmetrical window frames plus leather-&-chrome chesterfields and settees that would be favoured by newly wealthy who want to strut their stuff. Her eye blends stage and the seaside sand and water backdrops superbly.

Costume designer Linda Weston's togs meet playwright Simon's intentions and expectations 100%. E.g. Cookie's 60-year-old Russian dress is a masterful contrast to the other women's schmancier charity ball gowns they kibbitz over : "Was that Muscular Dystrophy in June?" "No, it was Emphysema in August!" goes Simon's glib dialogue.  

Acting pin-spots : The plot-line and whodunit-dialogue from Mr. Simon both lend themselves to the show being a bit on the shout-y side. That said, there are countless moments of memorable delivery across the field of ten actors who each and all evince enthusiasm and no hesitation or hold-back projecting their considerable lines during the 135 minutes they were all on stage (or hiding behind slammed doors...). 

Favourite moments to this eye and ear were three : Janine Guy as Chris Gorman was nothing but sheer treat. She was an accomplished knock-off of Julia Louis-Dreyfus doing Elaine Benes in the late-great Seinfeld series and held on to her character clingingly, delightfully the night through.

The bitchy exchanges between the Coopers -- Aran Davison as Glenn and Jessica Tabak as wife Cassie -- were probably Simon's best and most compleat dialogue exchanges in the entire show [see Addendum]. Pure Albee a la Burton and Taylor sniping sarcastically to-&-fro in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Their scenes alone make the ticket a proper grab.

But of course the hi-lite of the script and of this performance is Thomas Gage as accountant Lenny Ganz in his hand-me-down smoking jacket and M.A.S.H.-style gauze ear covering. Play-acting for the cops as if he in fact is Deputy Mayor Charlie Brock, his animated monologue would make Neil Simon himself stand and cheer, never mind the crowd on opening night. We all clapped eagerly at the end of his hilarious fantasy about some Mexican servants who were prepping Italian food and what really happened to cause the gunshots, missing Myra and all the other mayhem at play here. 

Who gonna like : There are two immediate issues with Rumors that are Neil Simon's fault alone and nothing to do with the BHT show's directors or actors. 

(1) His script fails to create meaningful relationships among all ten characters such that they are believable as friends and neighbours. Thus while lines as stand-alone dialogue may be hilarious, and often are, there is little by way of synergy among the roles, just coincidental proximity. 

(2) Length. At 135 minutes the show exceeds its mandate by at least 15-20 minutes i.m.o. I understand copyright limitations may preclude the kind of editorial excision the script sorely warrants and deserves. Still. If only.

But. And a BIG! "but" here. If you like Neil Simon's oh-so-clever ear for cadence and nuance and ironic jibe. If you are a fan of farce that is designed simply to tickle your ribs, not tweak your brain. If you crave an evening's outing that reminds you what joys small-town eagerness and enthusiasm can bring to any enterprise they put their minds to. Any or all of the above markers checked off, no question Beach House Theatre's Rumors is just the tonic to gin up the final weeks of this oh-so-summery season that 2018 has given us.

N.B. #1 : BLR bias reveal. Like BHT Artistic Directors Candace Radcliffe and Rick Harmon, I, too, am an alumnus of Earl Marriot Secondary in White Rock where I briefly dabbled a bit in classroom drama as a teacher there in '73-'74 during the school's inaugural year. As well, like many of the BHT troupe, I am also an alumnus of the White Rock Players Club where I last acted back in 1980 doing a Lerner-&-Lowe song-&-dance anthology (never did master the damn step-ball-change manoeuvre...). So community theatre works for me on a visceral, gut-level that may jaundice the above views somewhat.

N.B. #2 : Seldom have I seen such wholesale community energy and volunteerism and eagerness to support local boot-strap theatre the way the Crescent Beach / White Rock folks do for BHT on every level. Not just the production crew and the performers, who are robust and vigorous to a person. But also the excellent overall site presentation and management of BHT from concessions to refreshments with their stand-up tables that gaze off-shore into the silhouette of sailboats and paddle boarders and gulls and terns. Not to mention the orderly line-up of biffies off-piste: the volunteer quantum to pull all of this off is in the hundreds and counting. Huzzah's! to one and all.

Addendum :  Attached is the original version of the Glenn \ Cassie argument in Act 1 that is so vintage Neil Simon but also reminds me so of the Brando/Taylor Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? snipes over dinner with George Segal & Sandy Dennis.

And the fact that Aran Davison & Jessica Tabak executed it so crisply in this BHT production warrants reproducing it here :

CASSIE... Do I look all right?
GLENN... Yes. Fine.
CASSIE... I feel so frumpy.
GLENN... God, no. You look beautiful.
CASSIE... My hair isn't right, is it? I saw you looking at it in the car.
GLENN... No. I wasn't.
CASSIE... What were you looking at then?
GLENN... The road, I suppose.
CASSIE... I can always tell when you hate what I'm wearing.
GLENN... I love that dress. I always have.
CASSIE... This is the first time I've worn it.
GLENN... I always have admired your taste is what I meant.
CASSIE... It's so hard to please you sometimes.
GLENN... What did I say?
CASSIE... It's what you don't say that really drives me crazy.
GLENN... What I don't say?... How can it drive you crazy if I don't say it?
CASSIE... I don't know. It's that looks that you give me.
GLENN... I wasn't giving you any looks.
CASSIE... You look at me all the time.
GLENN... Because you're always asking me to look at you.
CASSIE... It would be nice if I didn't have to ask you, wouldn't it?
GLENN... It would be nice if you diddn't need me to look, which would make it unnecessary to ask.
CASSIE... I can't ever get any support from you. You've got all the time in the world for everything and everybody else, but I've got to draw blood to get your attention when I walk in a room.
GLENN... We walked in the room together. It was already done. Cassie, please don't start. We're forty-five minutes late as it is. I don't want to riun this night for Charley and Myra.
CASSIE... We're forty-five minutes late because you scowled at every dress I tried on.
GLENN... I didn't scowl, I smiled. You always think my smile looks like a scowl. You think my grin looks like a frown, and my frown looks like a yawn.
CASSIE... Don't sneer at me.
GLENN... It wasn't a sneer. It was a peeve.
CASSIE... God, this conversation is so banal. I can't believe any of the things I'm saying. We sound like some fucking TV couple.
GLENN... Oh, now we're going to get into language, right?
CASSIE... No, Mr.Perfect, I will not get into any language. I don't want to risk a scowl, a frown, a yawn, a peeve or a sneer. God forbide I should show a human imperfection, I'd wake up with divorce papers in my hand.
GLENN... What is this thing latly with divorce? Where does that come from? I don't look at you sometimes because I'm afraid you're thinking you don't like the way I'm looking at you.
CASSIE... I don't know what the hell you want from me, Glenn. I really don't.
GLENN... I don't want anything from you. I mean I would like it to be the way we were before we got to be the way we are.
CASSIE... God, you suffocate me sometimes... I want to go home.
GLENN... Go home? We just got here. We haven't even seen anyone yet.
CASSIE... I don't know how I'm going to get through this night. They all know what's going on. They're your friends. Jesus, and you expect me to behave like nothing is happeneing.
GLENN... Nothing is happening. What are you talking about?
CASSIE... Don't you fucking lie to me. The goddamn city knows about you and your cheap little chippy bimbo
GLENN... Will you keep it down. Nothing is going on. You're blowing this up out of proportions. I hardly know the woman. She's on the Democratic Fund Raising Cammittoo. I met her and her husbad at two cocktail parties, for God sakes.
CASSIE... Two cocktail parties, heh?
GLENN... Yes! Two cocktail parties.
CASSIE... Do you think I'm stupid?
GLENN... No.
CASSIE... Do you think I'm blind?
GLENN... No.
CASSIE... You think I don't know what's been going on?
GLENN... Yes, because you don't.
CASSIE... I'm going to tell you something, Glenn. Are you listening?
GLENN... Don't you see my ears perking up?
CASSIE... I've known about you and Carol Newman for a year now.
GLENN... Amazing, since I only met her four months ago. Now I'm asking you to please lower your voice. That butler must be listening to everything.
CASSIE... You think I care about a butler and a bleeding cook? My friends know about your bimbo, what do I care about domestic help.
GLENN... I don't know what's gotten into you, Cassie. Do my political ambitions bother you? Are you threatened somehow because I'm running for the Senate?
CASSIE...  State Senate! STATE SENATE! Don't make it sound like we're going to Washingtion. We're going to Albany. Twenty-three degree below zero in the middle of winter Albany. You're not Time's Man of the Year yet, you understand, honey?
GLENN... Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!
CASSIE... What was that?
GLENN... Oh-boy, oh-boy, oh-boy!
CASSIE... Oh, like I'm behaving badly, right? I'm the shrew witch wife who's giving you such a hard time. I'll tell you something, Mr. State Senator. I'm not the only one who knows what's going on. People are talking, kiddo. Trust me.
GLENN...What do you mean? You haven't said anything to anyone, have you?
CASSIE... Oh, is that what you're worried about? Your reputation? Your career? You place in American history? You know what your place in American history will be?... A commemorative stamp of you and the bimbo in a motel together.
GLENN... You are so hyper tonight, Cassie. You're out of control. You've been rubbing your quartz crystal again, haven't you? I told you to throw those damn crystals away. They're dangerous. They're like pertrified cocain. 
...Don't take it out, Cassie. Don't rub your crystal at the party. It makes you crazy. 
...Put that away. I don't want my friends to see what your doing.
CASSIE... Fine. Don't let my friends see what you're doing 

Particulars : Script by Neil Simon.  Produced by Beach House Theatre, Candace Radcliffe & Rick Harmon, Artistic Directors. On nightly, 8 p.m., under the stars at Blackie Spit, Crescent Beach through August 20th. Run-time two hours and twenty minutes. Tickets via 778.862.2141 or 

Production crew : Directors Candace Radcliffe and Rick Harmon. Set Designer Breanne Harmon.  Costume Designer Linda Weston. Stage Managers Chelsea Bunyan and Ryan Leiper.  Props Manager Dianna Harvey.

Performers : Michelle Collier (Cookie Cusack).  Aran Davison (Glenn Cooper).  Matt Falletta (Ken Gorman).  Tom Gage (Lenny Ganz).  Jenessa Galbraith (Claire Ganz).  Janine Guy (Chris Gorman).  Rebekah MacEwan (Officer Gwen Welch).  Gareth Owen (Officer Carl Pudney).  Jessica Tabak (Cassie Cooper).  James Walker (Ernie Cusack).


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Guys and Dolls is an updated fable of old NYC's demi-monde 
All the basic condition theatre requires is that fire last night & those costumes 
& the human voice & people gathered together.  
Sir Trevor Nunn, Director (Cats, 1981 \ Les Miserables, 1985)

From the footlights : It takes a wee kind of courage in 2018 to mount a show with the title Guys and Dolls, as in "gangsters and molls". Probably no more or less these days than trying to sell Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew as relevant and timely social commentary.

But in the hands of Fighting Chance Productions, this award-winning 1950 Frank Loesser song-&-dance showcase overall delivers the goods sharply and smartly. Subtitled "A Musical Fable of Broadway", it's a soft-edge look at tough guy Damon Runyon's Depression-era NYC demi-monde with its slummy roving illegal crap shoots and hot boxes (burlesque & booze havens). Which were offset, often, by soul-saving do-gooders who love parades and cornets and tambourines and true confessions to Jesus. But fail to find many converts to their cause.

Sergeant Sarah Brown & troupe try to save the gamblers and wicked fellow travellers from themselves. They find it is quite a futile proposition. 
Photo credit Jennifer Surato.
At the time Brit theatre critic Kenneth Tynan called G&D America's second-best play, just behind Death of a Salesman. Myth, legend, fabrication -- G&D's New York hustlers and grifters and show folk get a grip from the opening chart "Fugue for Tinhorns" and don't let go. Meanwhile director Jennifer Suratos makes the FCP outing just that much more contemporary by casting a Sally Ann General and a slightly-corrupt police lieutenant as women, along with a couple of the die-hard gamblers who do double duty as men/women.  

How it's all put together : Fans of FCP know how Artistic Director Ryan Mooney's raison d'etre is to give the region's rising young drama school talents an outlet to show off their chops. G&D features four current Cap College theatre students plus five grads from its storied program. Their enthusiasm and talent augur well for fast and furious futures on the country's professional theatre stages.

Most folks, thanks to t.v. re-runs, have seen the 1955 movie version. (In it Frank Sinatra's "Luck Be A Lady" with its classic line "A lady doesn't wander all over the room / And blow on some other guy's dice" is perhaps his true signature song, Frank being Frank.) He played gambler Sky Masterson. Sky bets he can seduce Sally Ann Sergeant Sarah Brown away to Havana. She, meanwhile, is trying desperately to keep her Save-A-Soul Mission doors open but needs prospective converts to do that. "Tear up your poker deck of cards and play no more / Follow, follow the fold" she urges these Times Square sinners : be sheep, not hustlers! 

As counterpoint to Sky and Sarah, there's floating crap game perpetual organizer Nathan Detroit. He and burlesque headliner Miss Adelaide from the Hot Box Club (sic) have been engaged for 14 years, but he's too busy trying to find crap-shoot game sites to pay much mind. She has a perpetual psychosomatic cold he's so cool to the idea of settling down. Eventually these story lines intersect and, as one would expect to find happen, all's well that ends well.

Production values that hi-lite the script : This show, primarily, is all about the imaginative and engaging choreography by Rachel Grace Carlson, assisted by Amanda Lau. Two numbers particularly were simply superb in design and execution : the extended "Luck Be A Lady" routines, then the show's famous conversion sequence "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" led by Argel Monte De Ramos as the animated Nicely-Nicely Johnson. In both numbers there were strong hints of the kind of inspiration Valerie Easton brings to every show she touches. And that is high praise, well-deserved.

There ain't no more promising converts than a bunch of crap-shoot junkies who've bet $1,000 on their lost souls. 
Photo credit Jennifer Surato.
Costume maven Amara Anderson revealed not only imagination and insight into the worlds of burlesque meets gambling fools, dolls vs. guys. No, often it is said the show seems to feature the men. But Ms. Anderson re-boots and refreshes that app completely : both the Farmalettes denim bib shorts routine to kick things off and the "Take Back Your Mink" strip scene in the second act were just plain jaunty and fun while the men's duds were more stereotypical off-the-shelf throughout.

Chris Hall's spare -- nay, stingy -- set gave ample room for the choreography and the costuming to strut their stuff. But the visually dead air space left the eye feeling cheated, as if this were a church basement rendering rather than what one would expect from a Vancouver Waterfront Theatre show by this highly regarded theatre company. More curious than distracting, and certainly no reason to stay away, not at all.

Acting pin-spots : The team of Charlie Deagnon as crap-shoot hustler Nathan Detroit and his forlorn love of 14 years Mandy Rushton as Miss Adelaide gave the show the "chemistry" the script so often talks about. Aided strikingly by Colton Fyfe as the mouthy gangster Benny Southstreet and Mr. De Ramos as Nicely.

Lead Ranae Miller as Sarah Brown has strong soprano pipes and nimble feet, particularly in her "Marry The Man Today" duet dance with Miss Adelaide. While of rich voice, Scott McGowan as Sky Masterston was to this eye too rooted afoot and of somewhat modest, too-static gesticulation to keep apace with the others.

For her part, pole dancer Sari Rosofsky was a choice piece of work, particularly her futzy hand fiddles never mind her pole prowess. Johanna Goosen's Irish brogue as the cop Brannigan on opening night was tut-tut-y fun stuff.

Who gonna like : If you like Frank Loesser's clever music and lyrics. If Abe Burrows' witty dialogue is up your alley, e.g. Miss Adelaide to the dolt Nathan : "I kinda like it when you don't give me presents. It makes me feel like we're married already." If the notion of "guys" and "dolls" -- the Mars vs. Venus stuff put to music -- doesn't make you gag. If you subscribe to Albert Einstein's brilliant theory that "Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed."

Given your response to the above "if's", this show has spunk, sprightly dance, obvious talent both in voice and afoot. Yet another showcase of local up-&-comers from our universities that is cause for celebration and rejoicing. 

Particulars : Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.  Book by Abe Burrows (with Jo Swerling). Based on stories and characters by Damon Runyon.  Produced by Fighting Chance Productions. On at Granville Island's Waterfront Theatre until August 25th, 1412 Cartwright Street. Run-time two hours and twenty minutes. Tickets and schedule informationFCP website.

Production crew : Director Jennifer Suratos. Musical Director Marquis Byrd.  Choreographers Rachael Grace Carlson and Amanda Lau. Stage Manager Kelsey Torok.  Set and Lighting Designer Chris Hall. Costume Designer Amara Anderson.  
Assistant Director Emily Bordignon.  Assistant Stage Manager Sarissa Chew. 

Band : Marquis Byrd (Music Director / Piano). Jazz Palley (Bass). RJ Abella (Trumpet). Mithun Michael Bagchi (Drums). Ardeshir Puerkeramati (Reeds).

Performers : Charlie Deagnon (Nathan Detroit).  Argel Monte De Ramos (Nicely-Nicely Johnson).  Scott McGowan (Sky Masterson).  Ranae Miller (Sarah Brown).  Mandy Rushton (Miss Adelaide). 

Featured gangsters, gamblers, molls, cops and hustlers : Simon Abraham (Angie the Ox). Haley Allen (Dance Captain, Hot Box Club dancer, crapshooter). Thomas Chan (Calvin). Colton Fyfe (Benny Southstreet). Johanna Goosen (Brannigan). Jake Hildebrand (Harry the Horse). Caitlin Hill (Joey Biltmore, Hot Box Club dancer). Danica Kobayashi (Hot Box Club dancer). Kate Krynowsky (Agatha). Jason Lam (Rusty Charlie). Jennifer Long (Brannigan). Erin Matchette (General Matilda B. Cartwright). Vanessa Quarinto (Hot Box Club dancer / Havana dancer). Isidro Rodriquez (Big Jule). Sari Rosofsky (Hot Box Club dancer, crapshooter). Amanda Russel (Hot Box Club dancer). Stephen Street (Arvide Abernathy). 

Addendum : Director Jennifer Suratos' Notes -- from the program.

Chemistry. It's a word that comes up a number of times in Guys and Dolls. High roller Sky Masterson uses the terms to describe the spark he imagines at meeting the woman he loves. Straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown attempts to conduct a chemistry lesson of her own, after enjoying one too many Dulce de Leches. And it is chemistry, I believe, that is the reason behind the success of this Broadway classic.

Start with a couple of short stories by Damon Runyon, add an award-winning book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, and ignite the flame with composer Frank Loesser, and the result is the Tony Award-winning Guys and Dolls. The spark continues with the iconic 1955 film adaptation starring Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine, and is reignited again and again with successful revivals on Broadway, in London's West End, and beyond.

It's easy to focus on the crapshooter in Guys and Dolls : they're quirky, charming, and a little bit dangerous. And while it could be seen as a show that mainly highlights the men, the gender balance is, in fact, equal. The story is infused with strong feamle characters, most notably with real-life Salvation Army Sergeant Rheba Crawford, the "Angel of Broadway", who was the inspiration behind Sarah Brown. I sought to further equalize the balance between men and women by hinting at other historical figures from the 1930's. Our Brannigan finds roots in Mary "Dead Shot" Shanley, the first policewoman in the NYPD to use a gun during an arrest. Our Joey Biltmore [Caitlin Hill] pays tribute to real-life mob bosses like Stephanie "Queenie" St. Clair, who ran a successful numbers racket in Harlem. Our female crapshooters are eminiscent of Bonnie Parker, of the infamous duo Bonnie and Clyde. Our Hot Box girls find inspiration in the bold, athletic pole dancers, who moved from circus sideshows to dance the hoochie coochie on main stages.

Sometimes, however, a doll is nothing without her guy. And while gambling is central to the storyline, love becomes the ultimate risk. When the stakes are this high, you need a bit of chemsitry and a lot of luck. As Sky says, "Life is one big crap game." Here's hoping you're not playing with loaded dice.

I have so enjoyed directing this iconic piece of musical theatre. I hope you enjoy it too.