Theatre Review: Guys and Dolls (Tour) - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭✭
Review by Anne Mackie
Following its critically acclaimed run at the Chichester Festival Theatre (and consequent extension in London’s West End), the current touring revival of Loesser’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ is one production that is certainly worth ‘rockin’ the boat’ for!
The much loved musical comedy is arguably among the finest when it comes to classic musical theatre writing, and the 2016 tour is a veritable testament to that theory. The production, directed by Gordon Greenberg encompasses all the elements of the ‘golden age’, intertwined with a stunning set design, expertly executed by Peter McKintosh who utilises an expanding arch advertisement-themed set complete with a light bulb illuminated NYC skyline which contorts into a number of different configurations to support the progression of the narrative. Additionally, Tim Mitchell’s thoughtful yet dazzling lighting design effectively captures the mood and atmospheric changes within the piece. Aesthetically, this is a production that is exceptionally pleasing.
What is equally as pleasing, is the cast – both principal and ensemble. Despite a couple of slipping accents from a few of the secondary principals, the leading foursome proved an excellent match with infectious chemistry and charm. Anna O’Bryne's Sarah Brown hit all the high notes with her soaring soprano tones whilst encapsulating a delightful sense of wit in her interpretation – a trait that is often lost in the role. Richard Fleeshman, on the other hand, portrayed an overly suave, almost cocky Sky Masterson; an interpretation that verged on the unbelievable, detracting away from the handsome, debonair persona reminiscent of the film adaption. Additionally, Maxwell Caulfield as Nathan Detroit depicted just the right amount of charm, ease and charisma in his portrayal of the eternally engaged fiancé and crap shooter. However, it was the incomparable Louise Dearman as Miss Adelaide and larger than life Jack Edwards as Nicely Nicely that truly stole the show. Dearman shone as the jilted showgirl, portraying the sassy and endearing caricature to a tea as she encompassed sharp-witted comic timing alongside strong, pitch perfect vocals. Similarly Edwards showcased an equally as clever comedic performance, breaking the forth wall on occasion to enhance the already humorous script. His rendition and delivery of ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat’ being the ultimate highlight of the show.
On that note, whilst considering the various high points of the 2016 tour, it is key to note that there are many. The choreography, in particular, proving an innovative and original focal point. Choreographers Andrew Wright and Cuban dance genius Carlos Acosta worked together to create a fresh, high energised gymnastic style that remained faithful to the period setting but was resplendently crisp, balletic and impressive.The Crapshooters’ Dance was a real choreographic tour de force, providing a unique take on the 1950’s musical classic.
Musically, the production is as charming as ever with musical direction/supervision by Gareth Valentine and orchestrations by Larry Blank. Blank’s revived arrangements in selected numbers impeccably enhanced Loesser’s original score, bringing the sizzling New York tale to life with an authentic flare and pizazz.
Since its inaugural opening on Broadway 60 years ago, ‘Guys and Dolls’ remains as popular as ever as it tours the UK until the end of July. With its stellar cast, production team and overall visuals, this production is the undeniable proof that the ‘old school’ classics do indeed last the test of time. There is no risk or gamble in buying a ticket for this show – you are indubitably onto a winner!