Tuesday, 21 June 2016

"Guys and Dolls"
Nottingham Theatre Royal.

One of the greatest Noo Yoik based musicals of all time is back in Nottingham. The story of Nathan Detroit and his doll Adelaide and Sky Masterson and his newly discovered doll Sarah, who is in the process of saving souls. Will Sky's soul be one soul she can't save, or will Sky give up his gambling evil ways and succumb to the word of the Lord?

Based on the stories and characters written by Damon Runyon, the action starts in Runyonland where Nathan is looking for a place to hold his latest "crap game". The only way he can think of raising the funds to pay for a venue is to bet Sky $1000 that he can't take take a "doll" of Nathan's choice to Havana for dinner, and Nathan chooses Sarah Brown from the mission.

In the background Adelaide, Nathan's fiancee for the last 12 years, wants to get married and they plan to elope, but all does not go to plan while Nathan is still planning the latest "crap game".

This is Hollywood though so it's all bound to end up happily ever after, and it does, leaving you with a fluffy, warm, squidgy feeling in your tummy.

Maxwell Caulfield, who you may remember from "Emmerdale" and of course playing the lead in the movie "Grease 2", plays Nathan Detroit, and is suitably slippery as he wriggles in and out of Adelaide's grasp and away from the law, namely Lieutenant Brannigan, played by Anthony McGill. Having met Maxwell in the past and have spent time chatting to him, I know that he has a brilliant sense of humour and playing a role like Detroit, that humour seems to spill naturally from him into the character.

Richard Fleeshman (Sky Masterson) exudes confidence in the role and has a cheeky way of shoving his tongue into his cheek, which shows his character to have a fun arrogance at the start, but then we see the change as he falls for Sarah, and his devil-may-care attitude to "dolls" is broken down. Richard is a very talented singer and a songwriter, but I've not heard him sing in such a low key as he did tonight. Whether this is because he has expanded his vocal range I'm not sure but it just seemed a tad too deep for him. Nevertheless he did a brilliant job in the role and his version of "Luck Be A Lady" was powerful and pacy.

I love Adelaide's character and Louise Dearman was just wonderful in the role, and what a voice she has, She also sounded good singing with a broad New York accent, which didn't waver a zip code throughout. Great fun to watch and lovely to listen to her controlled clear voice.

Along with Louise, one of the other stand-out voices of the show was from Anna O'Byrne (Sarah). She has a voice that is made for Hollywood musical style shows. you can listen to her all night if you had to. A boon to the musical side of the cast.

Brilliant ensemble pieces and some amazingly athletic choreography devised by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Weight and.performed brilliantly, and effortlessly by a very talented group of dancers.

I loved the costumes and there were so many suits and outfits which oozed glamour and style, making this show a visual delight.

A wonderful set which set the era just right by way of advertisement products in lights and covering the stage. The changing of the sets were smooth and also very quick, meaning that there was no hanging around with fill in instrumental sections. it all moved along at a nice pace, thanks to director, Gordon Greenberg.

There are many memorable songs in this classic musical,"A Bushel & A Peck", "If I Were A Bell", "Luck Be A Lady", "I've Never Been In Love Before", the brilliantly comic "Take Back Your Mink" (with a wonderful choreography piece to this song), and a rocking gospel version of "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat".

A wonderful cast, great songs, fun and frantic dance routines and some lovely comedy pieces, This is one musical which has stood the test of time and will continue to be performed for many decades to come, especially when it is performed to the standard that it was performed here.

"Guys and Dolls" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 25 June 2016.

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