REVIEW: GUYS AND DOLLS (Savoy Theatre)
Following a successful run at the Chichester festival theatre, Gordon Greenberg’s revival of the classic musical Guys and Dolls has joyfully danced its way into the Savoy Theatre. The show which follows a group of gamblers and their molls was made famous by the 1955 film which starred a veritable plethora of Hollywood royalty including Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. Staging such a well known musical is always going to have its downfalls with many audiences already having a preconceived idea as to what they expect the action to involve, but this fan of the show was not disappointed, and I found Greenberg’s production thoroughly engaging.
Jamie Parker stars as the straight laced smooth talking Sky Masterson, and after his recent casting as the eponymous hero in the new Harry Potter plays, I’m sure his performance will be under even greater scrutiny. Vocally he shines with a wonderfully silky quality and he manages to bring a certain charisma to Sky who is often played too bland. His careful wooing of Salvation Army sergeant Sarah is subtle and well thought, with some nice bits of “Chemistry”.
Siubhan Harrison is a much feistier Sarah than I’ve seen before, bringing a lot more excitement to the early scenes which can all too often drag. It is interesting as a fan, to note that the key in which she sings her first duet with Sky, the ballad “I’ll know” has been greatly dropped, taking it out of the more operetta soprano range and into that of a mezzo belt, which we have all become more accustomed to in modern musical theatre. It works well, with Harrison portraying the softening of the character as the story progresses with ease and panache.
Talking of vocal range however, we can’t escape the unrivalled talents of the vivacious Miss Adelaide, Sophie Thompson. Thompson steels the show for me with her take on the influenza ridden night club singer. With comedy timed to perfection, she masterfully commands the stage with the addition of an altogether unusual set of vocal variations, making her even more lovable. Her scenes with the charming Nathan Detroit, David Haig, are simply wonderful and I couldn’t help but reminisce about their earlier collaboration as a married couple in the film Four Weddings and a funeral.
The classic numbers “Luck be a lady” and “Sit down you’re rocking the boat” are performed with energy and style with my favourite characters, Nicely Nicely (Gavin Spokes) and Benny (Ian Hughes) proving their quality as the lynch pins who tirelessly push the pace of the otherwise slightly pedestrian plot.
Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland
Photo: Johan Persson