REVIEW: Rebel Wilson in GUYS AND DOLLS (Phoenix Theatre) ★★★★★

Rebel Wilson (Miss Adelaide) in Guys and Dolls at The Phoenix Theatre 3 Photographer Johan Persson

The 1950, Tony Award winning Musical, GUYS AND DOLLS, is back in London for the fourth time (1953, 1982, 2005) and recently 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.

Hollywood Film Star Rebel Wilson can do no wrong right now with a string of hit comedy films including Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids under her belt. But the Australian comedic actress has taken a break from the silver screen to spend the summer treading the boards of London’s West End in Guys and Dolls.

The role of Miss Adelaide is a comedic one and Rebel’s predecessor at the Phoenix Theatre, Samantha Spiro, was incredible and deserves to win awards for her portrayal. Rebel Wilson doesn’t try to imitate what Spiro did before, she goes back to scratch and makes the role her own, adding in comedy adlibs and dance moves. Rebel and partner Simon Lipkin (as husband Nathan Detroit) are the perfect comedy couple bouncing perfectly off of one another. Simon is also a great comedic actor and has been making the West End laugh over the years in shows like Avenue Q, Spamalot and I Can’t Sing.

I saw an early preview of Rebel Wilson in this role but even in her first few days she was smashing it, taking on the role like a duck to water and bringing her hilarious comedy persona and signature dance moves to the stage, whilst staying completly and perfectly in the role she was playing.

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, however injecting a youthful film star like Rebel Wilson could be just the thing this show needs to bring in a younger generation of theatre goers.

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson

GUYS AND DOLLS is booking at the Phoenix Theatre until 7 January 2017. Rebel Wilson will star in performances up to 21 August. Tickets