“Let’s keep the party polite”
In the absence of a long-runner, the Savoy Theatre has becoming something of a receiving house – Guys and Dolls has followed in the rapturously received Gypsy, both from Chichester, and the Menier’s Funny Girl lies in wait in April. But what was interesting to see on my return to Guys and Dolls (after seeing its original run in Chichester the summer before last) is that one size does not fit all, the business of transferring isn’t quite as easy as all that.
For where Gypsy seemed to gain in intensity in the confines of the proscenium arch, Guys and Dolls feels a little constrained by it. Maybe it’s just the memory of Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright’s explosive choreography on the openness of the thrust stage but it seemed to pop better there (he grumbled, from the rear stalls), it doesn’t benefit from the same width here at the Savoy and so some of the set pieces – as impressive as they remain – didn’t quite hit the nail on the head.
But the trick of this show is that it really is jam-packed with wonderful numbers. Getting to the interval knowing that ‘Luck Be A Lady’ and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat’ are still to come is a glorious feeling. Frank Loesser’s score sounds corking in Larry Blank’s orchestrations and under Gareth Valentine’s musical direction and under the arch of exploded advertising hoardings that make up Peter McKintosh’s design, there’s no denying the appeal of Gordon Greenberg’s production.
Harry Potter-designate Jamie Parker continues to impress as Sky Masterson, he really does suit these debonair old school musical roles so well, and Sophie Thompson is a delight as Miss Adelaide, all adenoidal outrage but real pathos too. David Haig suffers a little from looking so ineffably British that it’s hard for him to transcend that in my mind as Nathan Detroit here but I thought Siubhan Harrison’s sweet soprano suited Sister Sarah well, even whilst missing the lovely Clare Foster.
There’s a comforting quality to this production of Guys and Dolls which makes it an ideal show for January. Not meant as any kind of diss at all, but rather a reflection of its fun factor and the smoothly classic appeal of one of the all-time great musicals of our time.