Set in early 20th century New York, Guys & Dolls is the tale of a desperate group of gamblers, treading carefully in a world of sin. All whilst staying on the right side of their gangster associates, the law and even more troublesome for Nathan Detroit, his finance Miss Adelaide.
Based on two short stories written in the 1920’s and 30’s, Guys and Dolls was originally produced on Broadway in 1950 to critical acclaim and the production has since been revived several times in the past half a century and this could be the most impressive yet. It’s currently residing at the Phoenix Theatre whilst the production simultaneously embarks on a UK Tour.
This is a long show, 2 hours 40 mins, but you wouldn’t think so when you’re there.
The storyline develops at a steady pace, with the benefit of a thorough introduction to the characters as the opening scenes bring together the circumstances of Nathan Detroit and his circle of sinners, trying desperately to avoid being caught as they setup illegal gambling games – but the show consistently picks up the pace and draws the audience in to a point of being totally encapsulated in the storyline by the interval.
An impressive feature of this production is the superb company numbers, for example “Havana” late in Act 1 where this talented ensemble deliver a knock-out, high energy scene that will knock your socks off – and there are several quite incredible scenes throughout this show that really make it clear that you’re watching the tour of a truly West End production.
There are several show stealing performances within the show. Louise Dearman is a strong performer who you are lucky to see outside of the West End, playing a perfect Miss Adelaide. Richard Fleeshman (Sky Masterson) is every bit the gangster with an endearing softspot for Anna O’Byrne (playing Sarah Brown) who is delightful in this role with her beautiful voice and excellent portrayal of her vulnerable character.
Comedy is sprinkled throughout this brilliant script, most notably delivered by Jack Edwards and Mark Sangster in the roles of Nicely Nicely Johnson and his pal Benny Southstreet with classy, comical performances.
Maxwell Caulfield plays Nathan Detroit exceptionally well, perfectly capturing the itchy, desperate, weak fool of a character who has the audience in stitches as the plot develops around his escapades – and he even gets to marry his broad.
Our money is on this one to give you a very enjoyable night at the theatre.
Guys and Dolls runs is currently at the Newcastle Theatre Royal.
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