So, did Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre deliver on its promise? Slick guys? Tick. Sassy dolls? Tick. Toe-tapping tunes? Tick. Exhilarating choreography? Tick. Joyous escapism? TICK. I love evenings when I leave the theatre on a giddy high and this show certainly qualified…
Director Gordon Greenberg’s production was musical theatre at its absolute best, the perfect fusion of song and dance, a dazzling set bursting with vibrant comic book colours (kudos to designer Peter McKintosh) and delightful performances from the whole cast.
Frank Loesser’s musical (based on Damon Runyon’s characters and stories) is set in the shady underworld of 1950s New York City, where innocents like Salvation Army stalwart Sarah Brown (charmingly played by Siubhan Harrison) try to redeem gamblers and good-time girls with negligible results.
One such gambler is Sky Masterton (Jamie Parker, all hat-tipping swagger and cocky confidence). Sky is drawn into a bet with affable but inept Nathan Detroit (twinkly David Haig) that he can’t persuade the virtuous Miss Brown on a date (can he? LOOK AT HIM. Of course he can!)
Meanwhile, Nathan’s long-suffering fiancee of fourteen years, Miss Adelaide, star of the Hot Box cabaret show, is losing patience with his procrastination, not to mention his illicit dice gaming. The two couples’ storylines shape the show as these dolls and guys sing and dance their way to satisfyingly happy endings.
Sophie Thompson was exceptional as Miss Adelaide, showing tremendous vocal range, with a superb comedic performance packing an emotional punch too. Her saucy turns in the Hot Box were highlights, with “Take Back Your Mink” being especially effervescent and mischievous.
Other highlights belonged to Jamie Parker, once again demonstrating his apparently endless versatility, with a heartfelt “My Time of Day” and a scorching “Luck Be A Lady”, where he managed to look and sound rather marvellous even though singing in a sewer during Nathan’s dodgy dice game*.
I saw Parker in High Society at the Old Vic and in Sondheim’s Assassins last year, and caught his Prince Hal (not a euphemism, alas) at the Globe a while back. There’s nothing he can’t do! And he’s being Harry Potter this summer! I can’t keep up!
The fabulous (I’m sorry, but it’s impossible not to turn into Craig Revel Horwood when writing about musical theatre, darlings) ensemble of dancers was choreographed by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright. The Havana nightclub routines were thrillingly racy – I suspect a few pairs of spectacles were steamed up in the Savoy’s mature audience. I know mine were…
I saw Michael Grandage’s production of Guys and Dolls with Ewan McGregor as Sky and Jane Krakowski as Miss Adelaide in 2005. There was a great deal to love about that version, but this Chichester production surpassed it for energy, verve and exuberance.
A perfect example was in “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”, thanks to fantastic performances by Gavin Spokes as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Lorna Gale as the formidable General Cartwright and the rest of the cast giving it their all, luring the Savoy’s audience to let loose and join in**.
When a cast convey so much joy, it’s impossible not to be drawn in and it’s to the credit of this production that the cast connected so brilliantly, making people adore them as much as Miss Brown and Miss Adelaide adore Sky and Nathan… A wonderful experience all round!
*Okay, I confess. I love Jamie Parker nearly as much as I love Roger Allam…
** Both times I went to see it. Yes. I saw it twice. Sue me!