Though the big draw for this Donmar production of Broadway classic Guys and Dolls in the West End was Ewan McGregor, I was actually much more excited to see Jane Krakowski on stage. As the ditzy receptionist Elaine in Ally McBeal, she frequently stole the show for me and having displayed her vocal talents on the TV too, I was very much excited to see her. I hadn’t actually seen the show (or the film for that matter) before but it really was one of those where I discovered that I knew far more of the songs than I realised.
Set in 1950s New York, Nathan Detroit is an organiser of gambling tournaments whose long-suffering showgirl fiancée Miss Adelaide is determined to finally get him up the aisle. Sky Masterton is a gambler who is bet that he can’t get a woman of Detroit’s choosing to have dinner with him in Havana, but when he chooses missionary Sarah Brown, the unexpected happens for all of them. But the show is probably best known for Frank Loesser’s songs, a genuinely classic score full of amazing numbers.
And this is where the show really excelled. The big numbers like ‘Luck, Be A Lady’ and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat’ fizzled with amazing energy and fantastic choreography from Rob Ashford. Krakowski was every bit as good as I hoped she’d be as Miss Adelaide, her saucy cabaret numbers full of liveliness and verve and she also played the sensitive side of this big-hearted woman perfectly too. Opposite her, Douglas Hodge was the epitome of affable charm, though I was a little disappointed with Jenna Russell’s Sarah, a little too close to bland whilst playing the prim missionary.
It doesn’t help that Ewan McGregor is such a charismatic stage presence who pulls from her a lot (and conversely a much worse singer so that he pales in comparison when they sing together). But altogether this made for a lovable bunch of characters in a loveable, if a little old-fashioned, show which is bound to run and run.