A Penny for Your Thoughts – What is the Value of $40 on a Saturday Night in New Orleans?

Being a teenager on a budget in a city with dozens of activities to choose from, there are many different ways $40 can be spent.  Whether it may be going out to eat, attending a sports game or seeing a movie, even a small amount of money can be eaten up before you know it – and fast.

This past Saturday night, Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts kicked off their sixth annual season opening “Guys and Dolls” with student tickets priced at about $40. If weighing your options for the next two weeks, consider putting Rivertown’s incredible “Guys and Dolls” on your calendar.

“Guys and Dolls” is a quirky, humorous and exciting show including dice-slinging  gamblers, amorous “Hot-Box” dolls and a holy-rolling mission band set in 1930s Manhattan.

(left to right) Gamblers Benny Southstreet (Preston Meche, II), Nathan Detroit (Mike Harkins) and Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Adam Segrave) set the crooked lifestyle of the crapshooters by discussing where the next craps game will take place. Photo Credit: John Barrios

From the beautiful set design to the impressive choreography, Rivertown didn’t miss a detail in this show. The spot-on casting made it easy for director David Hoover to showcase every actor perfectly, and to say the supporting actors stood out just as much as the leads is an understatement.

The story opens up in New York City where three gamblers Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Adam Segrave), Benny Southstreet (Preston Meche, II) and Rusty Charlie (Deiveon Martensen) set one of the main plot points for the show- looking for a spot for their illegal craps game. Nicely-Nicely and Benny immediately grabbed the audience’s attention with their hilarious facial expressions and unique characterization.

The audience is introduced to Nathan Detroit (Mike Harkins) and the love of his life – or his doll – Miss Adelaide (Alison Logan), who have been engaged for fourteen years. Harkins and Logan perfectly exemplified who the two characters should be played by with perfect chemistry and an overall humorous relationship that brought the whole show together.

Sky Masterson (Joseph Morand), an infamous gambler who makes a bet with Nathan Detroit to take a woman or “doll” to Havana for $1,000, eventually realizes that he is in love with the uptight missionary Sarah Brown (Emily Borne). Once again, the chemistry displayed by the two actors was impeccable and Borne’s resounding vibrato blew the audience away.

Besides the outstanding performances by the lead and supporting actors, Ashley Morand and Taylor Thomas Hosemann’s choreography complemented the show perfectly. The Hot Box Dancers’ seductive yet playful dancing made it hard for the audience to take their eyes off the stage. In “The Crapshooter’s Dance,” the male ensemble performed a clean and precise number that was well-rehearsed and showcased acrobatics from two talented younger crapshooters (Mason O’Rourke and Donavan Brooks).

The show-stopping Hot Box dancers join Adelaide (Alison Logan, center) in her well-renowned song “A Bushel and a Peck.” This was just one of the few times the Hot Box dancers were featured donning bright and glamorous costumes all while dancing in complete synchronization. Photo Credit: John Barrios

David Hoover truly followed suit in one of the final numbers, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin the Boat.” Segrave stole the show and belted his heart out all while keeping up with the ensemble’s fast dance moves. Everything from the vocals to the choreography to the blocking was unexpectedly professional and something that people shouldn’t miss.

Hoover and the rest of the team did a wonderful job at bringing such a powerful show to life on Rivertown’s stage. The full house and standing ovation during curtain call proved just how much the audience enjoyed the performance.

Often times, local theatre doesn’t get enough credit. Believe it or not, people don’t have to be musical theatre fanatics to enjoy outstanding live singing and dancing. Yes, a $40 ticket sounds pricey but take this: fifteen hours of rehearsal a week for six weeks brings the cast to around 90 hours of hard work to give the audience a quality show that is comparable to a Broadway production.

Now, say a choice is made to go to a two-hour movie on a Saturday night. A $15 ticket plus drinks, popcorn and refills might bring the overall price to around $40 all for a movie that didn’t live up to expectations or ended differently than the trailer implied.

The options seem like a no-brainer. Three hours of live vocals harmonizing perfectly and impeccable choreography just fifteen feet away may be just the entertainment people have been looking for.

Mentor: Theodore P. Mahne (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

In the show-stopping number, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Adam Segrave) awes the audience with his strong vocals and steadfast body language. He is joined by the enchanting background vocals of the 12 sinners and some of the missionaries to bring the musical number to an audience- favorite. Photo Credit: John Barrios