The Chichester Festival Theatre’s dazzling production of Guys and Dolls premiered at the Savoy Theatre for a strictly limited season in January 2016; a little over a decade since the production last appeared in London’s West End. Guys and Dolls transferred to the Phoenix Theatre on March 19 seeing Samantha Spiro, Richard Kind and Oliver Tompsett join Siubhan Harrison in the leading roles.
A subtle air of smog set the scene for an explosive start to the show, which saw a sequence of acrobatic dance numbers choreographed by Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta, and West End choreographer and director Andrew Wright. These pulsating dance routines were accompanied throughout by a feel-good score, including a Gospel rendition of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat – performed by Gavin Spokes as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Lorna Gayle as the regimented General Matilda B Cartwright – which was welcomed by lengthy applause from the audience. Guys and Dolls is set in New York in the 1950s, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.
It follows the story of gambler Nathan Detroit (played by Richard Kind) and his soft-centered, forgiving fiancée Miss Adelaide (played by Samantha Spiro) who have been engaged for 14 years. Miss Adelaide wants to get married, while Nathan Detroit is more preoccupied with organising an illegal dice game to make money. Nathan meets fellow gambler, the suave Sky Masterson, and bets him $1,000 that he can’t take the ‘doll’ of his choice out for dinner. The ‘doll’ in question is missionary Sarah Brown (played by Siubhan Harrison). Guys and Dolls is a lot of fun, the vibrant backdrops creating 1950s America perfectly, lighting up to depict the vertical skyline of downtown New York (among others). My favourite scene was set in Havana, where Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown vacationed amid intricate mood lighting, seeing an exotic dance number that really brought out straightlaced Sarah’s feisty side. Samantha Spiro (pictured) picked up the pace as the nightclub singer Miss Adelaide, almost mirroring the character traits of Barbara Windsor in a Carry On film, especially during the musical number A Bushel and a Peck, giving her performance a comedic yet classy air of elegance.
Guys and Dolls is a heartfelt, feel-good musical comedy, with actor Richard Kind as Nathan Detroit bringing an element of hilarity through frequent childish outbursts and a smarmy charm that always seemed to win over the affections of Miss Adelaide. Highly recommended!
● Guys and Dolls is currently booking at the Phoenix Theatre until October 30, 2016. For group bookings call 020 7420 9700. For more information visit www. guysanddollsthemusical. co.uk
■ Guys and Dolls consisted of a sequence of acrobatic dance numbers and a feel-good score.
See Guys and Dolls during its UK and Ireland Tour from April until July 2016, starring Richard Fleeshman and Maxwell Caulfield.
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
Theatre Royal Plymouth: May 31-Jun 4 Glasgow King’s: Jun 7-11 Milton Keynes Theatre: Jun 14-18 Theatre Royal Nottingham: Jun 21-25 Canterbury Marlowe: Jun 28-Jul 2 Cardiff New Theatre: Jul 5-9 Bristol Hippodrome: Jul 12-16 Wolverhampton Grand: Jul 19-23 Woking New Victoria: Jul 26-30