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Guys and Dolls Feels Flat: We’re Blaming Oliver Platt

We were all geared up to write a brilliant post for you on why the latest incarnation of Guys and Dolls didn’t work for us, but then the New York Times‘ Ben Brantley put it best: “Whatever special substance it is that makes old shows feel new-born and artificial musicals ring truer than life, this Guys and Dolls left it behind in the laboratory.”

It’s true. While it was hard to walk into the same theatre recently occupied by Rent and not have great expectations for what we were about to see (judge away, “La Vie Boheme” is on our iPod for life), all we were looking for was a little glossy escapism via big production numbers. We were even willing to give Lorelai Gilmore the benefit of the doubt. As it turns out, she was one of our favorite parts of this Des McAnuff-helmed revival (you can also add to that list the cool video design by Dustin O’Neill, cute oldster Mary Testa, and Sergio Trujillo’s choreography in “The Crapshooter’s Dance”).

So what (or should we say who) made this musical miss the mark? Let’s just say if you happen to know any of the show’s producers, give them this advice: find a new Nathan Detroit. (May we suggest Hugh Jackman?) Oliver Platt, we love you in almost everything you’ve ever done — from Working Girl to Frost/Nixon — but this role simply ain’t you babe. And we’re not the only ones who feel that way.

“Oliver Platt is an epicene Nathan Detroit, less a man being pulled in conflicting moral directions than a blubbery muddle no Adelaide would waste 14 years on.” [Bloomberg]

“Platt, generally a very reliable star, seems to vanish so far inside himself at times, you feel as if all you see is his hat.” [Chicago Tribune]

“Oliver Platt is an actor of many talents, but he’s no one’s idea of a musical comedy star. He seems adrift playing marriage-shy gambling impresario Nathan Detroit, caroming in and out of accents, sometimes within the same sentence. At times, he plays Nathan as a petulant 5-year-old boy; at others, as a savvy street-wise fella.” [EW]

“Platt has done intriguing work on stage and screen, but superior acting ability doesn’t necessarily translate to a flair for musical comedy — something Sinatra’s co-star Marlon Brando proved in the role of Nathan’s smoother cohort Sky Masterson… It takes great skill to play a man with no pizzazz with pizzazz; Platt, who moves clumsily — as if uncomfortable with his height and girth — and whose New Yawk accent is tentative at best, doesn’t fill the bill as Nathan Detroit.” [USA Today]

“[Nathan] Lane’s Nathan Detroit milked every ounce of yuks from Burrow’s Damon Runyon- inspired script; here, Oliver Platt’s Nathan, with his bulldog mug, sets off titters rather than guffaws.” [Finanical Times]

All that said, the show will go on. For now at least.

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