Shropshire Events and Whats On Guide

Shropshire Events and Whats On Guide

Theatre Review : Guys and Dolls

Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat. Photo credit Johan PerssonChris Eldon Lee reviews “Guys and Dolls”, which is at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 23rd July.

This is such a stonkingly wonderful show. I felt so completely transported to Broadway, I was disappointed to find I couldn’t hail a yellow cab in Lichfield Street afterwards.

Often when big shows come out of London to trail around the nation, a certain amount of nibbling goes on. The set is cut down, the orchestra sounds smaller and some of the stars find they have better things to do. But there’s not even the slightest hint of any nail pairing in this stupendous production.

The cast simply explodes onto the stage. They get through a show’s worth of exhilariating dance moves in the overture alone…laying down a cast iron marker for rest of the evening. The choreography is fast, flowing, flamboyant and packed with energy…building to an absolute frenzy in the second half.  The use of hundreds of tiny pin spots over the dancers’ heads gives the sewer song “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” a ghostly, automaton feel … whilst the big, big, Mission Hall routine of “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat” is breathlessly pumped up and precise. It’s like watching the Blues Brothers take over a Billy Graham rally. It really is the best performance of that song I have ever seen, by quite some margin.

Praise must also be heaped upon the amazingly well drilled Havana night club sequence in which high-kicking dance girls and bare-chested, cartwheeling barmen cavort dangerously around the buffeted body of the poor, drunken mission girl Sarah Brown; played like a rag-doll-in-the-wind by an excellent Bethany Lindsell. I feared for her life – but the routine was so immaculately timed my eyes were wide with wonder rather than narrowed by concern.

The pace is so frenetic one really needs some subtle scenes to towel down and Director Gordon Greenberg handles the quiet moments with equal expertise.

In amidst the big numbers are such delightful duets. Richard Fleeshman’s Sky Masterson has the smarmy grin of Ronaldo as he tries to pick up Sarah, the Salvation Army girl, for a bet. But when his emotions overwhelm his greed and he tells her his real name, their pre-emptive kiss is an ‘ah’ moment and true love seeps through “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”.

Maxwell Caulfield’s Nathan Detroit is a floppy-haired, hen-pecked, no-hope slouch. His arms-length double act with Miss Adelaide is rib-ticklingly funny with cracking lines like, “Every time a doll finds a guy they like, you take him in for alterations”. Louise Dearman plays the ageing show girl with a Barbara Windsor giggle and brings the house down with her plaintive laments about matrimonial matters; whilst Jack Edwards and Mark Sangster as Nicely-Nicely and Benny seem to fill the stage with song with show’s title number.

It’s a completely faultless production that delivers absolutely everything you could wish for…including the biggest Big Jule ever. He’s massive! And so is this show.

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