Guys and Dolls

Date 12th April 2018
Society Essex Police Musical Society
Venue Essex Police Headquarters
Type of Production Musical
Director Pam Corrie
Musical Director Nic Graham


Author: Christine Davidson

There was a really warm welcome from Director Pam Corrie who greeted us last night. She told me that this was her fourth time of directing this musical and seventeen years since she had last directed it at EPMS. With photographs everywhere in the building promoting the show and an enthusiastic audience we knew we were in for an excellent evening of entertainment from this very experienced Director. 

This musical first premiered in 1950 It is born of the stories of Damon Runyon with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser (, Luck be a lady tonight, If I were a bell, Sit down you’re rocking the boat). The 5 piece orchestra led by musical director Nik Graham were excellent. Never once did I feel that they were too loud for the cast which can be the case sometimes.

Guys and Dolls revolves around Nathan Detroit, the organiser of the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York, who bets fellow gambler Sky Masterson that he can't make the next girl he sees fall in love with him. This just happens to be Sarah Brown, a naïve Salvation Army-type reformer, and the stage is set for a fun evening. Good sets for this production and a great crew who changed each scene seamlessly. Well done back stage.

We first meet the Gangsters, Benny Southstreet (James McGeough), Rusty Charlie (Ross Rogers) and Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Peter Sheldrick) who open the show with the song ‘Fugue for Tinhorns’. It was a worry for Pam the Director. that Peter would not be able to sing as he had lost his voice that day but not once did I think that he was at all croaky and all the men were totally in character with great suits, hats and mafia type attitude. 

Nathan Detroit (Michael Pearce) showed understanding of the role looking suitably worried most of the time on stage at the problems he was confronted with. He had the organising of the crap game and being maybe shot by Big Julie (James Bell) and trying to get out of marrying Miss Adelaide for the past fourteen years.   Peter Sheldrick as Nicely Nicely gave us a robust and tuneful character singing the big number ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boatwith strong backing from the rest of the cast.

Salvation Army marched in with ‘Follow the Fold’ with Arvide Abernathy (Phil Merriman) banging the big bass drum and later singing the delightful song ‘More I cannot Wish You’. Sarah Brown played by pretty Jess Merriam had a voice as clear as a bell and really embodied the character. She obviously seemed to enjoy kissing the handsome Sky Masterson (James Knapp) who like Jess, was superb in the role. Wonderful sharp suits and hats for Sky, so well done to the wardrobe Ladies, (Pat Nicholson, Aprille King, Claire Lambeth and Pam Corrie).

James and Sarah worked really well together and both of them had great presence on stage. Pam is very lucky to have so many talented actors in her cast.  I really did feel that these two characters were very real on stage and loved their interpretations as they inhabited the roles.

Another superb character was the very funny and feisty Kate Alliston as Miss Adelaide as the long suffering fiancé.. She really made the most of her role and her comic situations and had a super Bronx accent.. Kate is a breath of fresh air, so full of energy and like a bottle of champagne, full of fizz and bubbles that just burst onto the stage.  Her accompanying ‘Hot Box Girls’ were great fun and their dances were well choreographed. Lots of smiles from the girls which made us feel that they were really enjoying themselves on stage.

With so many supporting actors that are key to the show’s success it’s hard to mention everyone. I feel though I must mention two in particular, Jean Hurrell as General Cartwright who commanded the Salvation Army and Lt. Brannigan – Strachan Countinho. Both were strong on character and had clear projection.

Lighting and sound were good. I particularly liked the echo sound in the underground sewer scene and the dripping of the water.

To conclude I have to say the whole cast were all so happy and made the evening very memorable. Pam said we would be singing the songs as we went home and we certainly did. Congratulations to everyone for a really lovely evening.