Music: Frank Loesser
Book: Abe Burrows, Jo Swerling
Director: Gordon Greenburg
Reviewer: Steph Rowe
Lady Luck had certainly given Gordon Greenburg’s dice a solid kiss before being rolled out to the sold out Chichester Festival Theatre audience for their latest musical revival of Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows musical based on the short stories of Damon Runyon.
Following the exploits of Nathan Detroit as he tries to swerve love and the law to sort out his underground Crap games, times are looking tight as no premises can be found, with the big boys in town and ready to roll a small fortune, things need to happen and quick. Adelaide (Nathan’s long suffering fiancé) is working as a singer at the HotBox Club, but wants nothing more than to be his wife, however the living on the promise of “tomorrow” has resulted in some serious psychosomatic symptoms. On the other side of the fence Salvation Army’s Sarah Brown is struggling to bring in enough sinners to keep the church open but a chance meeting with sharp shooter Sky Masterson is about to send her whole would into a tailspin.
Musical stalwart Peter Polycarpou delivers a confident performance as Nathan Detroit, with Clare Foster (Sarah Brown) and Jamie Parker (Sky Masterson) adding strong performances to the mix, their chemistry oozing appeal especially when the action flies to Cuba. Credit must also be given to a terrific and rather imposing performance from the towering Nic Greenshields as Big Jule… However stealing the show with a sharp and sizzling portrayal of the lovelorn Adelaide is Sophie Thompson, who relishes every moment on stage, she is a delight to behold and never anything short of sensational.
Peter McKintosh’s set helps keep this production dynamic, its neon lights and advertisement hoardings not to mention the New York Skyline all encapsulate the era wonderfully and helps set the scene quickly without detracting from the performance as a whole.
Greenburg’s direction is fluid and assured but it’s the choreography from Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright that really makes this production stand out. The energy that is installed from this dynamic duo is nothing short of breath taking. Precise and clean, the raw magnetism and language of the form is drawn out from the tight ensemble and delivered with aplomb sending shivers down the spine.
It must be said that at times the sound balance wasn’t doing the production any favours, lost dialogue and unheard lyrics just some of the issues especially when actor’s backs were turned upstage, however one is sure that during the run this will be ironed out, and hopefully as sharp and crisp as the onstage band under the musical direction of Gareth Valentine
However putting the negative aspects aside Greenburg and the CFT give Guys and Dolls a hearty revival with plenty to recommend, it may not be their strongest revival in recent years, but it certainly isn’t their worst, in fact one would bet that this revival has full house written all over it.
Photo: Johan Persson | Runs until 21st September 2014