Writers: Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music: Frank Loesser
Lyrics: Frank Loesser
Director: Gordon Greenberg
Choreographer: Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright
Reviewer: Sue Collier
Guys and Dolls tells the story of a group of New York underground gambling men during the American prohibition period. In this Chichester Festival Theatre production, the two principal male characters of Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit are played by Richard Fleeshman and Maxwell Caulfield. Nathan has been engaged to Miss Adelaide for 14 years and though he loves her, he does his utmost to avoid committing himself to marrying her. When Sky meets the beautiful Sarah Brown from the Save-a-Soul Mission, they fall in love despite the enormous variations in their lifestyles. Will the sinners repent? Will Miss Adelaide ever marry? Will love conquer all? The story is not a particularly gripping one, though this production makes for a great evening of music and dance and the audience is easily engaged. Fleeshman gives a self-assured yet charming performance and he has a really good voice, not unlike Fran Sinatra’s in its style
There is an immediate wow when the show opens with Fugue for Tinhorns, based around a shoeshine booth. A trio of mature male singers easily engages the audience with their strong vocals and likability. The costumes of the male characters are colourful and expertly cut with each character having his individually coloured suit. The wardrobe department hasdone a specular job throughout, offering a quality, endearing, visual impact. Jack Edwards as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Mark Sangster as Benny Southstreet provide an immensely powerful support to the story. Their voices are strong, they are endearing to the audience and it is great to see two mature actors making such a powerful impact on the quality of the overall performance.
Of particular importance is the quality of this company’s talented ensemble; with great harmonies, they are all lively and engaging storytellers. Their energy bounces off the stage towards the audience and never more so than during the dynamic Luck be a Lady. The stunning scene changes are interestingly introduced and there is another wow moment during the scene in Havana, in which there are Latin-American music and dance sequences reminiscent of West Side Story.
Miss Adelaide is played by Lucy Jane Adcock who makes the character very appealing to the audience, everyone wishing for her to get that band of gold. Sarah Brown is played by Anna O’Byrne who has an incredibly pure, strong and delightful soprano voice. All four principal cast members give the overall impression they are very much enjoying themselves; the enjoyment infectious as it transfers to the audience who are rewarded with an encore of the marvellous Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat during Act 2.
Though Guys and Dolls may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it has proved difficult to find fault with this production and it is highly recommended. This is a top quality production that leaves an audience feeling full of energy and satisfied with their evening’s entertainment. Good job all round.
Runs until: Saturday 28 May 2016 | Image: Contributed