Guys & Dolls
9th May 2017
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
Type of Production
Author: Julie Petrucci
The score for ‘Guys and Dolls’ is considered to be one of the finest ever written for Broadway and its memorable tunes run the gamut of styles from romantic through streetwise and onto gospel with ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat’. It is one of my favourite musicals and I know it well.
Simon Pearce’s 10 piece Guys and Dolls Band were absolutely excellent throughout with not a note out of place and pitching the level just right when it underscored the dialogue. They played the overture superbly and that busy opening scene, with the comings and goings of passers-by on the street was well choreographed.
Jamie Maguire gave a notable performance as Nicely-Nicely Johnson who appeared to spend most of his non-gambling time eating —his acting and vocal abilities were excellent augmented by great stage presence. In The Fugue for Tinhorns Nicely-Nicely was joined by Ben Musgrove making a convincing Benny Southstreet and Max Cunnell as Harry the Horse/Rusty. This was a strong number with just enough movement in the song to make it interesting on the eye.
The other named supporting gamblers played their part in making the production visually and aurally successful. Jack Cutting’s slight stature brought out the humour in the role of Big Jule and Andy Cunnell resplendent in a Colombo style raincoat, did well in his on-off role as Lt Brannigan.
The two main characters of the Save –A-Soul Mission were suitably cast and Jeremy Warbrick as Arvide Abernathy gave a praiseworthy rendition of the beautiful More I Cannot Wish You in a nice scene with Sarah, whilst the severe General Cartwright was secure in the hands of Debbie Croll.
BSEAODS sported a large and talented male chorus for this production although it was augmented by a few ladies playing male roles. They were of course clearly ladies but they took male stances and blended in with the men pretty well I thought.. Their two major numbers Luck Be A Lady and Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat were excellent. Great voices and confidently executed choreography by Heather Couch made these scenes stimulating.
The men were balanced nicely by the lively Hot Box Girls’ routine in ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ and ‘Take Back Your Mink’. The girls were sure footed and great to watch. The lively dance in the `”Havana scene” was extremely well executed and I liked the idea of the dancers being the roads traversed by Sarah and Sky from place to place. Added to this, of course, we had some enthusiastic input by the members of the Mission Band.
Now to the four main principals. I think Nathan Detroit is a great role because of the Jewish element in his dialogue. The musical was set in an area of New York that would have been full of Jewish immigrants who clung onto the Yiddish expressions. In a fine characterisation Liam Corbett really mastered the role and his acting and singing were excellent.
In a first-class performance the vivacious Rachelle Curtis threw herself into the role of Miss Adelaide, the long-suffering fiancé. The pitch of her voice and her Bronx accent were perfect for the part although I did have trouble understanding some of her lyrics.
Will Cahill gave a commendable performance as the suave Sky. He perhaps came across as a little less of a womaniser than Sky usually does, but I liked the interpretation. First night nerves affected his first number but he soon settled down.
Making her BSEAODS debut as Sarah Brown, Katie Woodhouse showed she is a talented actress with a vocal range bordering on the operatic. A fine debut Ms Woodhouse.
Technically this show was of a high standard. Lighting by Scarlett Lighting was superbly plotted and managed, the lighting for the phone booth and the sewer scene was exceptional. Sound by Phil Robson was excellent and a masterclass in how to use and control radio mics. Scene changes were done under cover of the action as unobtrusively as was possible. Costumes, make-up and wigs again were very good and the programme included a comprehensive synopsis of the show, contained excellent graphics and an extremely interesting page by Joan Abbs from the archives together with lots of other information. Well done compiler Tracy Dougherty
Many congratulations to Simon Bowen a director who obviously put much thought and professionalism into the production. Guys and Dolls entire ensemble made for an excellent evening.