Guys and Dolls

Date 15th February 2024
Society The Burton Musical Theatre Company
Venue de Ferres Academy, Burton
Type of Production Musical
Director Sam Walker & Oly Wright
Musical Director David Blackwell
Choreographer Catherine Moore
Written By Frank Loesser


Author: Alan Bruce




Based on short stories and characters of Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser, Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Set in the 1920s and 30s in the world of gangsters, gamblers and other nefarious New York underworld types. Considered by some to be the perfect musical comedy, the show ran for 1200 performances when it opened on Broadway in 1950.

We first meet Nicely-Nicely Johnson, played by Ollie Last, and his buddy Benny Southstreet, Bradley Hambleton, they work for Nathan Detroit, played with a passion for staying single by Jonny Stewart.

Nathan is under extreme pressure, pressure to find a venue for his floating crap game, pressure to find the $1000 to fund said venue, pressure from New York's finest in the form of Lieutenant Brannigan, Alan Lowe, but most of all, pressure from his very long suffering fiancé the lovely Miss Adelaide, Dani Harris.

All the high rollers are in town, money in their pockets, looking to Nathan to arrange the action. Nathan bereft of the $1000 has a lucky break when Sky Masterson, the highest roller of them all, superb portrayal by Lee Smith comes into town ready for action.

Nathan sets Sky a crazy surefire bet for the $1000 to take local Missionary Sergeant, Sarah Brown on a date played in a beautifully understated way by Rachel Edwards.

Sky sets about his seduction of Mission Doll Sarah to go on a dinner date, finally offering her a deal, his marker to provide her failing mission with a dozen sinners for the big evening rally if she goes on the date, for the good of the mission she reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile we have some very comedic dialogue between Nathan and his hypo-allergenic fiancé of fourteen years, Adelaide. This was played to perfection. Nathan's reactions as Adelaide revealed their reported idyllic family life she'd written to her mother, was a joy to watch.

These two excelled themselves in the interaction between the characters, very endearing and realistic. The scenes in the Hot Box club where Adelaide performs were at times delicate, subtle and just plain funny.

Guys and Dolls has some truly memorable songs, highlights for me were Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat, A Bushel and a Peck, Luck Be A Lady, Guys and Dolls and Sue Me which was sublime.

Directors Sam Walker and Oly Wright, have done a great job steering this production team, who pulled out all of the stops to bring Guys and Dolls to the stage. A well thought out monochrome set as the backdrop to emphasize the vibrant colourful zoot suits which really zinged, minimal props, all worked exceptionally well.

Sound was good. Lighting on the whole was really good, particularly the sewer scene, there were however a few puzzling scenes, where mainly Sarah seemed unlit down stage left in particular. Costumes were excellent. The talented supporting cast all gave their ‘A’ game to this brilliant show. Fedora doffs to Arvide Abernathy: Mike Starr; Big Jule: Jonny Salt.

Musical director David Blackwell as ever, the consummate epitome of style and substance. Band great throughout. Great harmonies, I remember learning these myself almost forty years ago, the multiple melody numbers especially, every subtle nuance in the character’s performances were heard.

Choreographer Catherine Moore really accredited herself, so many men dancing on stage, movement was slick and well-rehearsed, we loved the well staged Crapshooters Ballet, Havana and Hot Box numbers.  Vibrant, colourful, slick, utterly entertaining. Plus, the benefit of wonderful memories Loved it.