Guys & Dolls
16th April 2014
ADC Theatre Cambridge
Type of Production
Author: Julie Petrucci
Based on Damon Runyon's short story "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown," Guys and Dolls centres round Nathan Detroit, the organiser of the oldest permanent floating crap game in New York, and his bet with Sky Masterson, whilst all the while evading marriage to long-term fiancée and the Hot Box nightclub’s main attraction - Miss Adelaide, with some great songs thrown in.
When a company has a reputation for presenting quality productions, one's anticipation and expectation is higher and one's criticism, should there be any, more pedantic. Therefore I was rather disappointed with what, I felt, was a rather lacklustre opening number on the second night.
Pied Pipers fielded a strong team of principals but I felt that one or two of the minor roles could have benefited from less profile playing and more confidence and volume in the dialogue. With those comments out of the way I can concentrate on what came together to provide us with a thoroughly enjoyable production.
Danielle Phillips suitably demure as Sarah Brown and Simon Young as a good-looking and skilful Sky Masterson were a good pairing and there was nice empathy between the two which led to some engaging scenes coupled with great singing, particularly from the glorious voice of Ms Phillips.
Steve Waring gave a superbly accomplished performance as Nathan Detroit: his comic timing and facial expressions were a joy. His opposite number Rachel Bye put in an incredibly impressive performance - one which wouldn’t have disgraced the professional stage - as his long-suffering fiancée Miss Adelaide. Both actors had a great feel for the humour of their roles.
Giving admirable support to Nathan Detroit in fine voice and with some skilful interaction were Chas Barclay as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Marcelo Cervone (Harry the Horse) and Chip Colquhoun (Benny Southstreet), coupled with neat cameos from Richard Sockett as Big Jule and Phil Norton as Joey Biltmore.
The success of this show depends as much on the male chorus as it does on the principals. Pied Pipers had a suitably rugged male chorus for this production and their two major numbers Luck Be A Lady and Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat, augmented by the female ensemble, were excellent. Good voices and confidently executed choreography by Emma Olley made these scenes stimulating. I should also add that I thought The Oldest Established with Nathan, Nicely, Benny and the Guys was absolutely splendid.
The Guys were balanced nicely by the lively Hot Box Girls with two very energetic numbers A Bushel and a Peck and Take Back Your Mink. Added to this we had the enthusiastic input of the members of the Mission Band rounding off this talented cast well.
The sets were absolutely outstanding and the lighting design impressive, particularly in the sewer. Add great costumes and appropriate props and you had a visually high quality backdrop to this show.
Rising above all this, literally, were Lucas Elkin and his superb orchestra. Easily the best I have heard for a long time.
These Guys and Dolls did director Matthew Chancellor proud with a first-rate Pied Pipers' production, falling only just short of excellent.