Sit down everybody because the boat is thoroughly being rocked at the West End's Savoy Theatre!
Ashamedly I had never seen the 1950 Broadway classic "Guys & Dolls" before and now thanks to the Chichester Festival Theatre, there goes another entry ticked off my bucket list. It's been about a year and a half since this new incarnation graced audiences in Chichester and now (with a few new additions to the cast) the production finds itself rightfully in London's West End for a limited engagement through to 12 March 2016, before continuing on its National Tour through the Summer.
The story follows two couples - one of which has been engaged for the past 14 years, whilst the other meets and (against all odds) falls in love during the course of the musical. Nathan Detroit, played with a magnetic likability by David Haig, and nightclub hostess Miss Adelaide, a deliciously over-the-top Sophie Thompson, are the former. She wants to settle down in the country as a housewife and put her exotic dancing days behind her. He battles with his phobia of commitment and dreams of being a big shot in the gambling world. Enter a true big shot in said world - Sky Masterson (Jamie Parker oozing suave like it's going out of fashion) and the plot unfolds. Sky can't resist a bet. Nathan needs $1,000 for a venue to stage his illegal dice game. The wager that sets this ball rolling is that Sky must be able to woo any girl of Nathan's choosing and get her to dine with him... in Havana, Cuba! The damsel in question, however, turns out to be straight-laced Sister Sarah Brown of the Salvation Army (Siubhan Harrison)... Let the mission begin!
There should always be a place in the West End for the nostalgic Broadway musical. Peter McKintosh's wonderful scenic design pays
homage to that neon era and cleverly shifts with the slightest of effort to the scenes set away from the streets of Manhattan. The choreography served up by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright and performed by the young and gifted ensemble is outstanding and sure to be a contender for this year's Olivier Awards and, of course, that toe-tapping score by Frank Loesser is musical theatre heaven. Jamie Parker (who will soon undoubtedly rocket to even higher heights as the new Harry Potter in the West End's eagerly anticipated 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child') seizes his moment with the classic "Luck Be A Lady," only to be outshone by Nathan's sidekick Nicely and the whole company for the Act II showstopper "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat." The applause was so loud and lasting that two encores were earned for this musical number.
If I were a betting man myself, I'd put good money on 'Guys & Dolls' becoming a bonafide West End hit of 2016!