Guys and Dolls

Date 18th October 2017
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue The Gordon Craig Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Slava Budin-Jones
Musical Director Derek Blyth
Choreographer Sera Dinmore

Report

Author: Vicki Avery

Guys and Dolls is a big musical with a big cast. It is also very well known.The permanent ‘Street’ set worked well, giving plenty of room for movement and the projected skyline made for an impact opening.

The orchestra of ten under the accomplished baton of Derek Blyth started the overture at a good pace and matched nicely with the various characters of the ensemble enabling everyone to have their featured moment. Every member of the cast aimed to be a character that they maintained throughout the show. Well done.

The principal singing was mostly good, in particular the trio of Craig Prutton, Dexter Grant and Kevin Grace as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet and Rusty Charlie respectively, with the close harmony work in the opening. However, there were times when I felt the score was a little laboured and needed to move on a pace allowing less confident performers who were not blessed with definitive breath control to sustain those long notes with ease.

Richelle Brundle as Sarah Brown showed us what a talented actress she is but the vocals at times seemed a little strained and some of the high notes were not as secure as they might have been. However, as she grew in confidence everything improved and her duet with Miss Adelaide, Sally Hobbs ‘Marry the man today’ was a highlight. She had a clear understanding of emotions and therefore was a ‘real’ character that the audience loved.

Ross Edwards as Sky Masterson was an excellent match to Sarah Brown. He was perfect as the slick talking, laid back smooth gambler and I enjoyed the different ways with which he approached the variety of lowlife characters, clearly displaying the hierarchy of the New York underworld. “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” I loved.

Sally Hobbs as Miss Adelaide showed us just how much she enjoyed playing this role.  Diction was good and her singing suited the part. “The Lament “ was very enjoyable indeed.  Her New York accent was well sustained throughout. A good match to Nathan, it was easy to see why they were made for each other.

Tom Beirne as Nathan Detroit made a valiant attempt at bringing this character to the fore, and I have witnessed this young man learn and develop his craft meticulously over the past few years but for me, this time, he tried too hard. Although the character is a fast moving, fast talking gambler/con man, lines were delivered so fast that much of the comedy/slick vocabulary was missed. Posture was awkward with the body stooping forward for much of the time. You are a tall young man, so embrace your height, don’t try to hope people wont notice. If you stoop forward they will.

Craig Prutton as Nicely-Nicely Johnson assumed this character as smoothly as a fitted glove.  He was Nicely throughout maintaining the persona and posture of this lovable buffoon. His singing was excellent and ‘Rocking the boat’ was a delight, very well done. Here we have a very valuable member of the company who I hope to see more of in the future.

Dexter Grant as Benny Southstreet, a slick, talking fast moving excitable character full of fun was the perfect sidekick to Nicely. Good Character potential here. Well done.

All other principal characters performed well, with talent and enthusiasm. I particularly enjoyed John Dunleavey’s portrayal of Arvide Abernathy. The gentle Scots accent and his love for Sarah was most endearing. One really believed he cared deeply for Sarah and meant every word he sang. Perfect casting.

The lighting was adequate, but more attention needed to be paid to setting the night scenes and creating good atmosphere. Having said that it is the principal’s responsibility to find their light and angle themselves accordingly, only experience can do this and on an unfamiliar stage or one that is not used regularly this can be difficult. 

Props were minimal but well used and were moved quickly and efficiently by the cast.

The sound reinforcement was excellent I could hear every word, but minor characters with lines but no microphones were indistinct.

 The costumes were good and matched the era.  They were worn well and suited the characters perfectly.

 The direction of the production was good, good groupings, good characterisation and very good performances from everyone with some characters excelling expectation.  Generally, the pace of the whole production was a little slow but for a first night with no complete technical run through I thought everyone did very well.

This was a competent performance from an enthusiastic cast. It was great to see some new faces in the company and I enjoyed the evening very much.

Thank you once again for taking care of me so well.