Guys and Dolls is a musical based on ‘The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown’ and ‘Blood Pressure’, both short stories written by Damon Runyon. The musical was written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. It follows the stories of New York gamblers and their pursuit of ladies. Interestingly, the book was selected as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1951, but because of Burrows’ troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, this selection was vetoed and no prize was awarded that year.
The story begins with Nathan Detroit (played by David Haig (Someone You’ll Watch Over Me, The Madness of George III, (TV) Four Weddings and a Funeral)) trying to find a venue for his crap game (an illegal dice gambling game), with the help of his friends Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet (played by Gavin Spokes (1984, One Man Two Governors, Laurel and Hardy) and Ian Hughes (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Lion King, The 39 Steps)). He is also trying to conceal his business affairs from his “doll”, Miss Adelaide (played by Sophie Thompson (Four Weddings and a Funeral (TV), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (TV), numerous Shakespeare plays on stage)) who he’s been engaged to for 14 years and who thinks he has given up gambling and running crap games.
Detroit needs to find $1000 to secure the venue for his game. He makes a bet with Sky Masterson (played by Jamie Parker (High Society, Assassins, Proof)) that he can’t get Sarah Brown (played by Siubhan Harrison (From Here To Eternity, Grease, Les Miserables)), a missionary against sinning, to go to Havana with him.
The cast were all fantastic, with some really standout performances. ‘Luck Be A Lady’ is performed by Sky when he makes a bet with the crap players. If they win, they get $1000 each, and if he wins, they have to go to Sarah’s missionary meeting. He does this because he is in love with Sarah and knows that she is in trouble with the Head of the Missionary for the lack of success in recruiting sinners. If he wins the bet, he’d deliver a group of sinners to the Missionary.
‘Adelaide’s Lament’ is a song sung by Adelaide when she is feeling ill with a cold, and believes it is psychological due to waiting for 14 years for her wedding day. There is a reprise of this song in the second Act as well.
‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat’ is a high energy performance and the highlight of the show, sung by Spokes and Lorna Gayle (The Crucible, Rudy’s Rare Records, Nation), who plays the head of the missionary.
‘Marry the Man Today’ is sung by Sarah and Adelaide when they decide to marry their gamblers, Sky and Nathan, in spite of their faults.
The show features many high energy dance numbers. All of the dancers are fantastic. Selina Hamilton (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Rock of Ages, Dirty Dancing) really stands out of the ensemble, particularly during ‘Havana’, where she is a dancing diva.
During the crap game, the male ensemble are phenomenal. There is also a funny moment when Big Jule (played by Nic Greenshields (Oklahoma!, Anything Goes, Billy Elliot)) is ‘out 25 Gs’ ($25000). He is a sore loser, and then rolls Detroit again with his own special dice with no numbers on them.
Guys and Dolls is an excellent show, with high quality singing and dancing with a swing style. It is currently showing at the Savoy Theatre until 12th March, before moving to the Phoenix Theatre from 19th March and embarking on UK tour.
For more information on the Savoy Theatre, visit West End Theatre Guide London here: http://www.westendtheatreguide.london/west-end-theatres/savoy-theatre/