"When you see a gent/Paying all kinds of rent/For a flat that could flatten the Taj Mahal/When a bum buys wine like a bum can't afford/It's a cinch that the bum/is under the thumb/of some little broad/When a lazy slob/takes a good steady job/And he smells from Vitalis and Barbasol/Call it sad, call it funny/But it's a better than even money/That the guy's only doing it for some doll."
Yes, "Guys And Dolls," one of the classics of Broadway's golden age of musicals, is coming to Berkeley's Julia Morgan Theatre in a new production from Berkeley Playhouse.
When it premiered in 1951, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; but the award was yanked at the last minute because of scriptwriter Abe Burrows' troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, and no Pulitzer for Drama was awarded that year.
"Guys And Dolls" is a comic topsy-turvy world where the bad guys are the good guys, sporting names like Big Jule, Harry the Horse, Nathan Detroit and Nicely Nicely Johnson. It features classic songs like "Fugue For Tinhorns," "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" and "The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game In New York."
Since the hoodlums are the good guys, it follows that the bad guys are the cops -- in the person of Lt. Brannigan, who keeps trying to bust Nathan Detroit's crap game. In a case of life imitating art, the role is being played by a real-life cop: Berkeley Police Sgt. Tom Curtin.
"I'm the heavy," he says. "I'm the guy trying to put flies in the ointment."
Curtin has loved musical theater ever since he played Jesus in a high school production of "Godspell," but he put his theatrical career on hold after college to concentrate on catching crooks. Now he's back. This is his second stint with Berkeley Playhouse, having previously played a Nazi in "The Sound of Music."
"Guys And Dolls" will run from March 21 to April 28, but the songs will linger in your memory a lot longer than that.
Fairyland: Meanwhile, happy birthday to Oatmeal and Raisin, the two Babydoll lambs at Children's Fairyland in Oakland, who turned 1 year old last week, which means they've officially graduated from lamb to sheep status.
Fairyland celebrated with a big party featuring a birthday cake made of lamb chow and hay, which Oatmeal and Raisin scarfed up in a nanosecond. And all the little children serenaded them with a lamb song ("Mary Had A Little Lamb") a sheep song ("Baa Baa Black Sheep") and, of course, "Happy Birthday." Adorable doesn't even come close to describing it.
Crowden recital: Finally, remember Audrey Vardanega, the 17-year-old piano virtuoso from Oakland who has been getting raves from classical musicians and critics since she was a tween? She's leaving for college next fall, so one of your last chances to catch her will be March 17, when she gives her senior recital at the Crowden School of Music in Berkeley, playing pieces by Liszt, Chopin, Scriabin, Haydn and Bach.
I first heard Audrey when she was only 13, playing at the Midsummer Mozart Festival, and I was blown away. I asked the festival's artistic director, Maestro George Cleve, how good she was for her age. And he laughed out loud.
"Martin," he said, "She's great for ANY age!"
Reach Martin Snapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.