GUYS AND DOLLS, till 29 January.

By Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD
Tues – Sat 7.30pm (check Christmas and New Year with theatre)
Runs 2hr 20 mins One interval. Till 29.01.12

TICKETS: 0208 340 3488
Review: William Russell, 20 December

Still the Greatest Floating Crap Game, a great outing for guys and dolls.
This venerable musical by Frank Loesser based on the Damon Runyon stories – it opened on Broadway in 1950 – is arguably the greatest of all musicals. It has a perfect book (Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows) and witty lyrics, and a succession of marvellous songs (by Loesser), not a dud among them, although that did not stop the film version starring Sinatra and Brando ditching five numbers and putting in three new ones (by Loesser fortunately). It is not a fool proof show. The last Broadway revival was a flop.

But this fringe production is no miss. It has a hard working cast of 13, slick direction by Racky Plews, and a standout performance from Rebecca Sutherland as Miss Adelaide, the redheaded broad with a permanent cold, engaged for 14 years to Nathan Detroit, who runs the aforesaid floating crap game.

Plews has given it a traverse staging – the audience sits on opposite sides of the acting space which is in effect a corridor – my least favourite way of disposing of seating. It creates some awkward staging problems, mostly overcome. The show is also miked, which, given there is a decent band under Joanna Cichonska, is probably necessary, but in a house this size ought not to be needed. Whatever happened to voice production?

Some of the American accents are dicey, and occasionally the pace slackens, but when Adelaide, who gets the best songs, comes along it takes wing. Give that girl back her mink! Anthony McGill delivers a splendid More I Cannot Wish, an object lesson to all around, as the uncle of Sarah Brown – sweetly sung by Amy Bailey – the Salvation Army girl wooed by gambler Sky Masterson, a sturdy, Jamie Sampson. Patrick Ruffy duly rocks the boat as Nicely Nicely and James Kermack is a suitably shifty Nathan.

It makes the perfect outing for all guys and dolls seeking to dispel those New Year blues.

Sarah Brown: Amy Bailey
Harry the Horse: Paul Bullion
Officer Brannigan: Connor Dowling
Angie the Ox/Joey Biltmore: Matthew John Gregory
Nathan Detroit: James Kermack
Arvide Abernathy: Anthony McGill
General Matilda B Cartwright: Leanne Tain Marshall
Bige Jule/Calvin: David Muscat
Nicely Nicely Johnson: Patrick Rufey
Sky Masterson: Jamie Sampson
Benny Southstreet: Jos Slovick
Mimi/Martha: Hayley Ellen Scot
Miss Adelaide: Rebecca Sutherland

Director: Racky Plews
Musical Director: Joanna Cichonska
Choreographer: Lee Proud
Designer: Martin Thomas

2011-12-29 10:29:46

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