The test of any musical is the way its script stands up without the tunes. Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows' Guys & Dolls meets the challenge sporadically, but its characters help make it one of the better pieces of Golden Age musical theater. In the first show of its first full season, San Diego Musical Theatre tackles the story fairly well, as director Troy Magino juggles multiple plots about high-rolling gangland crapshooters and the chicks who love them.
The only consistent misstep is Magino's tendency to use every centimeter of the floor. Swerling, Burrows and composer Frank Loesser were going for bawdy and lush when they designed the piece; Magino's sprawling pictures mute that effect. But you'll like Robert J. Townsend as Obadiah “Sky” Masterson, who abandons his unseemly ways for the button-down Sarah Brown (the very good Amy Biedel). Ole Kittleson holds up his end as the grandfatherly Arvide Abernathy. The show runs through Feb. 3 at the East County Performing Arts Center, 210 East Main St. in El Cajon. $25-$45. 858-560-5740 or www.sdmt.org.—Martin Jones Westlin
Tony and Cleo: The love story of Antony and Cleopatra is told, this one based on historical and primary sources and not on Shakespeare. Opens Feb. 3 at 6th@Penn Theatre, 3704 Sixth Ave. in Hillcrest. 619-688-9210 or www.6thatpenn.com. $12-$15.
Sea of Tranquility: A transplanted shrink with a lurid past learns something about himself and clears up a mystery about the human condition. Through Feb. 10 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. 619-23-GLOBE or www.oldglobe.org. $46-$56.
Fences: Troy Maxson is fencing in his family amid his abandonment of personal responsibility. Through Feb. 24 at Cygnet Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. in the College Area. 619-337-1525 or www.cygnettheatre.com. $22-$31.
* In This Corner: The 1938 Max Schmeling-Joe Louis boxing rematch gives way to the men's unlikely reunion 32 years later. Through Feb. 10 at The Old Globe Theatre's Cassius Carter Centre Stage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. 619-23-GLOBE or www.oldglobe.org. $42-$52.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre: To escape answering a riddle, Pericles sets out on a journey amid storms, famine, a duel, the loss of his wife and the abandonment of his daughter. Presented by the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance through Feb. 2 at the Mandell Weiss Forum Studio, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive in La Jolla. 858-534-4574 or www.theater.ucsd.edu. $10-$15.
* String of Pearls: A vaunted strand of beads opens myriad possibilities in the lives of an array of women over the course of 35 years. Through Feb. 10 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987-D Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach. 858-481-1055 or www.northcoastrep.org. $26-$40.
* The Pillowman: An author is interrogated about the possible link between his short stories and a series of murders. Presented by Ion Theatre Company through Feb. 16 at The Lab, Academy for the Performing Arts, 4580-B Alvarado Canyon Road in Mission Valley. 619-374-6894 or www.iontheatre.com. $10-$29.50. See our review here.
* This is Our Youth: Three New York City young people, disillusioned during the Reagan years, grapple with society's rejection of the liberalism on which their parents were raised. Through Feb. 17 at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787-B State St. in Carlsbad. 760-433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org. $15-$26.
Chalk it Up to Murder: HIT Productions features a cavalcade of new clues for a terrible crime. Fireside Steakhouse, 439 W. Washington Blvd. in Escondido, 619-561-8673. $16-$29.50.
Joey & Maria's Comedy Italian Wedding: The fortunes and foibles at the heart of an Italian wedding are laid on the table. Holiday Inn on the Bay, 1355 N. Harbor Drive, 800-944-5639. $49.50.
Where There's a Will... There's a Wake: Gangland figure Sonny Shoehorn is heir to the family fortune unless his siblings have their way. Presented by Mystery Café Dinner Theater at Imperial House Restaurant, 505 Kalmia St., Downtown, 619-544-1600. $54.50-$59.50.Ongoing
Triple Espresso: Three dorks make a bid for fame on national TV. Through Feb. 17 at the Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Ave. Downtown, 619-234-9583. $10-$37.50.