REVIEW: GUYS AND DOLLS (Phoenix Theatre)

The 1950, Tony Award winning Musical, GUYS AND DOLLS, is back in London for the fourth time (1953, 1982, 2005) and has just re-opened at the Phoenix Theatre after a successful run at the Savoy Theatre. Known for it’s classic musical theatre songs ‘A Bushel and a Peck’, ‘Take Back Your Mink’, ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat’ and of course ‘Luck Be A Lady’, GUYS AND DOLLS might be an oldie but its a timeless goodie!

Running an illegal game of Craps is no easy task and no one knows this better than Nicely Nicely Johnson and his boss Nathan Detroit who are looking for a new venue to hold the game in, where the police won’t find them. Their only option is a local garage but the owner wants a $1,000 deposit which the boys don’t have. Nicely decides to make an obscure bet with Sky Masterson, a man who never says no to a bizarre gamble. He bets that Sky can’t woo and take local missionary woman, Sarah Brown to Havana for the evening. Sky promises Sarah a dozen sinners to bring to the missionary to allow her to try to save their souls (and this could also save the establishment from closing down), so she agrees. But can Sky stop himself from falling for the doll and win his bet. Or will he take a gamble instead on winning her heart.

Oliver Tompsett is charming and charismatic as Sky, oozing self confidence without becoming cocky. Siubhan Harrison is the perfect Sarah Brown and has real chemistry alongside Oliver making a very believable love story. Samantha Spiro is a little pocket rocket as Miss Adelaide, commanding the stage (and her boyfriend Nathan) at all time whilst also showing the softer, less secure side of her personality. Richard Kind gives a great comedic performance as Nathan Detroit, and his humour keeps the show flowing nicely. Jason Pennycook shines in the role of Benny and is captivating to watch. Having last seen him perform in Memphis, he is making a big impact on me and the West End and despite his extensive theatre career so far, I predict the best of him is still to come.

The music in Guys and Dolls is classic and everyone will at least know ‘Luck Be A Lady’ but probably a handful of others including ‘A Bushel and a Peck’, ‘Take Back Your Mink’ and ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat’. The set is nicely designed and everything about this production just seems to work perfectly. It’s a bit old fashioned but its an old show. If you’re looking for a classic song and dance musical then Guys and Dolls is definitely one to check out.

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson

Tickets to the London West End production of Guys and Dolls