Guys and Dolls was one of the first musicals I ever saw – in a school production when I was in my early teens. I can’t remember much about it, however, and I’d never seen a professional production, so I was pleased when I heard that the Chichester Festival Theatre’s acclaimed production would be transferring to London.
With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, the show is an adaptation of several short stories by Damon Runyon, telling the story of a gambler who falls in love with a Salvation Army girl.
Jamie Parker is an actor I really like, and the show was much more fun whenever he was on stage. He was completely believable as the charming rogue Sky Masterson, and I love his singing voice: his rendition of “Luck, Be A Lady” was a definite highlight. I enjoyed David Haig’s performance as Nathan Detroit, but I wasn’t so keen on either of the main female characters: for no reason that I can pinpoint, I didn’t take to Siubhan Harrison’s portrayal of the missionary Sarah Brown, and I found Sophie Thompson’s performance as Nathan’s longstanding fiance Adelaide too cartoonish and exaggerated.
The set is appealing, with attractive neon lights and swift scene changes, and I really liked Carlos Acosta’s energetic choreography. However, except when Jamie Parker was on stage I found myself bored for much of the time. Perhaps Guys and Dolls just isn’t my thing: I only liked two of the songs, including “Luck, Be A Lady” and Act 2’s catchy “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”.
This is a good solid production of Guys and Dolls, but it didn’t quite gel for me. Maybe this is because of the show itself, not the production, but I was largely underwhelmed.