Book: Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music and Lyrics: Frank Loesser
Director: Robert Hastie
Reviewer: Charlotte Broadbent
With the traditional pantomime playing next door at the Lyceum, the Sheffield Crucible have made Guys and Dolls their Christmas offering. More and more families are looking for a little variety in a Christmas show and nothing could be more enticing than a fabulous old school musical.
The loveable gambler Nathan Detroit is struggling to keep his unlicensed crap games going with the police hot on his tail. With the arrival of Sky Masterson, he finds an opportunity for a quick wager to help bankroll his next game. He challenges Sky to take the pious missionary, Sarah Brown on a whirlwind evening trip to Havana. The domino of wagers continues as Sarah agrees to accompany Sky on the condition that he will provide her mission with a dozen sinners at the next prayer meeting. With wager on wager and the driven police detective not far behind, this plan soon becomes a caper.
The stage layout in the Crucible can make staging and set building a challenge, however, more often than not this necessity breeds incredible invention and the set, designed by Janet Bird in an example of a little going a long way. A rotating stage with tracks means that skeletal doorframes and walls can be slid into the space and indicate locations. The band is visible throughout, above the stage in small but cosy New York apartment interiors. There’s nothing in the script to say it can’t be set at Christmas, so Robert Hastie has done just that: a few decorations here and there adding a little more sparkle.
While the musical boasts many incredible songs, it is the choreography that makes this production world class. Matt Flint’s routines are simply spellbinding, calling to mind classic musical films such as West Side Story and Sweet Charity. The ensemble is exquisite, bringing true quality to this Sheffield stage.
Natalie Caey is relentless with her performance as Adelaide, taking advantage of every available moment to find every laugh she could but still revealing a touching vulnerability. Alex Young is formidable in the role of Sarah Brown, an impressive, almost operatic upper register rang clearly throughout the theatre. TJ Lloyd is charming as Nicely Nicely Johnson and brings down the house leading the classic Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.
While it certainly isn’t a challenge finding decent theatre at this time of year, Guys and Dolls is definitely worth your consideration. Stylish, sharp and stunning, the Crucible has brought glamour and class to Yorkshire this Christmas.
Runs until 18th January 2020 | Image: Johan Persson