Review: Guys and Dolls. (touring) Nottingham Theatre Royal

five star

The ‘direct from the West End’ touring production of Guys and Dolls, currently showing at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 25th June, is an irresistible delight. With show stopping numbers such as A Bushel and a Peck, My Time of Day/I’ve Never Been In Love Before, Luck Be A Lady and the infectious show stopper Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat – plus the easy and delightful humour of the narrative, one is guaranteed to go home a very happy theatre-goer.

This 6 Olivier award nominated production is a sterling lesson in how to present top class Musical Theatre. It is not just the fabulous numbers but all the totally believable characterisation and wit that these professional performers inhabit. For any amateur musical theatre players or would-be professional performers  this production of Guys and Dolls is a very highly polished bench mark to learn from and inspirational on all levels. The talented ensemble really get into their roles and rejoice in the telling of the story of these particular New York guys and dolls.

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Starring Richard Fleeshman as a self-assured and notorious gambling rogue Sky Masterton and Maxwell Caulfield as desperate gambler Nathan Detroit the show is directed by New York’s Gordon Greenberg and benefits from dazzling and masterly choreography by Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta (recently seen at the Royal Concert Hall in his farewell tour). Andrew Wright, choreographer of Singin’ In The Rain and Chichester’s 2015 tour of Barnum adds his scintillating dance expertise to this spectacular production of Guys and Dolls. With a cast and live orchestra totalling over forty this is one fabulous fable of Broadway.

… one fabulous fable of Broadway.

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The role of straight-laced missionary Sister Sarah Brown (Anna O’Bryne) is performed beautifully by O’Bryne who not only has a pure soprano voice but brings out the comedic aspects in her character delightfully. On a more serious side she sings of needing a man with a strong moral fibre which is contrasted by Sky’s declaration that he wants to be surprised by love. Maybe the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ is one for him to watch out for as well as Sister Sarah watching out for them rum laced milkshakes!

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Actress, Louise Dearman is very appealing as her character Miss Adelaide. The audience’s sympathies are with her all the way as she struggles to get any commitment towards marriage from Nathan Detroit during a 14 year engagement! Losing her patience in the whole affair she sings about her perpetual cold symptoms. Miss Adelaide’s song – sung at the Hot Box Club – entitled Miss Adelaide’s Delight – is a gauche and amusing piece about disappointment in love and is a big hit with this Nottingham audience.

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Jack Edwards as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Mark Sangster as Benny Southstreet and Christopher Howell as Rusty Charlie give excellent performances overall but come into their magnificent own in the numbers Fuge For Tinhorns and The Oldest Established. Cameron Johnson as Big Jule is brilliant fun.

All time winner of an old time show.

Chichester Festival’s touring production of Guys and Dolls is an all time winner of an old time show; fabulous music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, terrific book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows (based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon), high octane Havana dance routines, great direction and an incredibly strong ensemble that do much more than support the principals. This a perfect show  currently showing at Nottingham Theatre Royal for those wishing to wallow in the delights of an old time musical or those for which the show is a brand new experience. The set design alone is worth the admission price. Designer Peter McKintosh – set and costumes – really evokes the period well.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Phil Lowe

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