music and lyrics by Frank Loesser book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows based on a story and characters by Damon Runyan.

New Wolsey Theatre Civic Drive IP1 2AS To 16 April.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 16 April 2.30pm.
Captioned 8 April.
TICKETS: 01473 295900.

then Salisbury Playhouse Malthouse Lane SP2 7RA 28 April-21 May 2011.
Mon-Wed 7.30pm Thu-Sat 8pm Mat Thu (except 28 April) & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 19 May 2.30pm & 8pm.
BSL Signed 18 May.
Post-show Discussion 17 May.
TICKETS: 01722 320333.

Runs 2hr 55min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 March.

It’s better ‘n’ a probable twelve-to-seven you’ll love these Broadway babes.
You know you’re in safe hands from the dangerous-looking opening. An array of men, faces grim below their hats, in long coats and the kind of instrument cases you know hereabouts contain firearms, open the cases, take out their metalwork and let us have it.

Yeah, trumpets, trombones, you name it – the heavy brass is all there, though soon softened by the gentler woodwind of the Sally Army dolls. Whose mission is rightly set in an obscure corner of this mid-century New York street-scene. There’s never a convert to be found. Or wouldn’t be if local Army leader, Sarah Brown, hadn’t caught the eye of high-rolling gambler Sky Masterson.

It’s an unusually stern eye in Peter Rowe’s revival of this fine musical – every song a winner, several out-and-out champs – with its various games of love and chance. Crime isn’t serious; the sole policeman’s happily outwitted. The main search is fixer Nathan Detroit’s for somewhere to hold the next instalment of his famous crap-game.

Even the hoodlums aren’t too fearsome – visiting from Capone-land, Paul Kissaun’s Big Jule has an innocent manner when he comes up with his tactic to ensure a few victories. Most surprising characterisation is Robbie Scotcher’s straight-backed, calm-mannered Sky, with nothing of the gambler’s freewheeling. The interpretation bites deep with Sky’s self-disgust over betting on Sarah.

That contrasts Ben Fox’s evasive Nathan, anxiously conscious of his image, in his desperation to find a temporary gambling-den and his nervous looks around to ensure no-one sees he wears glasses.

What gets these men isn’t the law but women. Laura Pitt-Pulford’s serious Sally Army Sarah neatly contrasts Rosie Jenkins’ showgirl Adelaide, Nathan’s serial fiancée, her wide-eyed naivety speaks loud with emotional honesty, whether believing his flattery or angry at his behaviour, while her showgirl costumes are contrasted offstage by a full-length dress that speaks of ambitions for suboiban bliss.

For the rest, ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ is nicely nicely sung by Gavin Spokes, with beautiful, and practical, choreography from Francesca Jaynes. And among the acting-singing-playing company, there’s a sharp-etched caricature by Kraig Thornber, surely a definitive Harry the Horse.

Society Max: Adam Baxter.
Liver Lips Louie: Delroy Brown.
Mimi: Sophie Byrne.
Agatha: Georgina Field.
Nathan Detroit: Ben Fox.
Rusty Charlie: Christopher Fry.
Benny Southstreet: Anthony Hunt.
Miss Adeliade: Rosie Jenkins.
Big Jule: Paul Kissaun.
Officer Brannigan: Nick Lashbrook.
Martha: Claire McGarahan.
Wanda: Lorna-Marie Moore.
Sarah Brown: Laura Pitt-Pulford.
Brandy Bottle Bates: David Randall.
Hot Box MC: Alun Saunders.
Sky Masterson: Robbie Scotcher.
Angie the Ox: Steve Simmonds.
Nicely-Nicely Johnson: Gavin Spokes.
Harry the Horse: Kraig Thornber.
Joey Biltmore: Charlie Tighe.
General Matilda B Cartwright: Susannah Van Den Berg.
Arvide Abernathy: Johnson Willis.

Direc tor: Peter Rowe.
Designer: Libby Watson.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Sound: HKevin Heyes.
Musical Director: Greg Palmer.
Choreographer: Francesca Jaynes.
Voice coach: Laurann J Brown.
Fight director: Jonathan Jaynes.
Assistant director: Lora Davies.
Assistant musical director: David Randall.

2011-04-03 13:43:37

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