REVIEW: Guys & Dolls, New Victoria Theatre

This lively production of a classic musical is equally a delight to watch and to listen to, thanks to the wonderful cast performances. 

L-R%2c Anna O%27Byrne (Sarah Brown)%2c Richard Fleeshman (Sky Masterson). Photo credit Johan Persson.jpg
Anna O’Byrne and Richard Fleeshman .Credit: Johan Persson.

It is a true testament to the popularity of a show when it runs both in theatres across the UK and in the West End at the same time – so director Gordon Greenberg must be extremely thrilled at how the show has been going down with audiences.

Having transferred from Chichester Festival Theatre to the West End and now across the UK, Guys & Dolls is certainly a light and bubbly musical production with plenty to delight audiences.

For those who don’t know, the musical follows the lives and loves of two gamblers Nathan and Sky. Nathan is desperate for money to run an illegal game, so bets that Sky can’t get the conservative mission doll Sarah Brown to go to Havana with him. On top of this, Nathan is having to deal with his fiancee Adelaide, who is desperate to get married. Everything will work out in the end won’t it?

It does, but it is fun to watch it all unfold on stage, thanks in part to the wonderful cast who really capture the spirit of the characters and their story. One stand out performance is Louise Dearman’s despairing Adelaide, whose infectious sense of humour but sense of vulnerability makes for an immensely likeable performance – with her rendition of “Adelaide’s Lament” particularly memorable.

Sadly Adelaide’s partner Nathan as played by Maxwell Caulfield isn’t as convincing, just lacking that spark to suggest that he is terrified of losing his freedom if he gets married and will do anything to avoid it – except let Adelaide go. But Caulfield gradually warms up and provides some genuinely funny moments through his reactions.

The other couple at the centre of the story have certainly plenty of natural chemistry that doesn’t fail to charm and draw the audience into their story. Bethany Lindsell as Sarah is uptight enough to show what Sky has to work through, particularly in the scene when they first meet is particularly sparky, but also a sense of vulnerability and personality when it comes to the scenes in Havana. Linsell has some difficult notes to achieve in songs such as “I’ll Know” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” , which at times are a bit nervy – but once she warms up are extremely impressive.

Richard Fleeshman as Sky is suitably arrogant, but carried out with enough charm that just like Sarah it is difficult not to warm to him. As ever, vocally his tones really capture the essence of the story with plenty of charisma and depth, such as on “My Time of Day”.

Also look out for great comic performances from Jack Edwards (Nicely-Nicely) and Mark Sangster (Benny), providing many of the laughter and smiles – such as during the “Guys & Dolls” sequence.

Of course, the music is at the centre of the musical, but Guys & Dolls also proves that it is very much a dance piece as well. Choreographed by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright, the dance sequences are always lively, contemporary and energetic to watch – particularly seen in the Havana bar scene – which is equally hilarious as Sarah attempts to dance exactly like the Havana Diva (Danielle Stephen).

Gordon Greenberg’s direction and Peter McKintosh’s designs, capture the original story perfectly (even if it feels slightly too long – perhaps some of the songs such as “Marry the Man Today”could be left out) to create a lively and entertaining evening that is a delight to watch.

Guys & Dolls is on at the New Victoria Theatre Woking until the 30th July. To book tickets visit ATG Tickets.

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