Guys and Dolls is a gangster musical all about the love relationships of two of the gamblers. This production opens in Broadway. The scene is well set before the first musical number, “Fugue for Tinhorns”. I hate to think of the hours that Nicely-Nicely (Peter Lucas), Benny (Richard Adams) and Rusty (Keith Ridgeway) rehearsed getting this so perfect!
The Save-a-Soul Mission attacked us from behind passing through to obvious on-stage mockery and we met the recurring humour-element for the first time: Gloria (Eddie Prior) – undoubtedly my star of the show!
The duet “I’ll Know” was sung so well by Sarah (Michelle Crisp) and Sky (Jon Holden) that it brought a tear to my eye. It wasn’t just sung – it wasn’t just acted – it had me checking to see if they were real husband & wife! [They’re not!]
“A Bushel and a Peck” [Adelaide(Michelle Johnson) & The Hot Box Girls] was the first song where some of the words were lost during the verse but it was followed by the impressive “Adelaide’s Lament” [Adelaide(Michelle Johnson)] – the accent (like all of the cast) was simply spot on!
More of the munching Stan Laurel, no sorry, Nicely-Nicely (Peter Lucas), and Benny (Richard Adams) with “Guys and Dolls”. Some of the words were also lost at the start of this piece, as they were at the start of “My Time of Day” [Sarah & Sky]. Sarah and Sky failed to match the (now expected) standard of “I’ll Know” with both volume and diction being different by each of them at the start but it soon became matching and beautiful.
Starting the second act, “Take Back Your Mink” [Adelaide(Michelle Johnson) & The Hot Box Girls] had me looking for the slow-motion playback button as I really never saw that dress come off! Then “Adelaide’s Second Lament” [Adelaide(Michelle Johnson)] was just as good as the first!
More tears as Arvide (Marion Simpson) superbly sings “More I Cannot Wish You”, a universe away from the “Crapshooter’s Ballet” [Band] and “Luck Be A Lady” [Sky (Jon Holden) & Guys] that followed.
When Adelaide (Michelle Johnson) catches up with Nathan (Gerald Prior) and they sing “Sue Me”, I again realise how much rehearsal must have been put in to get to such a high standard. This thought is recapitulated during “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat” [Nicely & Company] where I feel Nicely (Peter Lucas) could have done with a stage ten times larger and still made it look small!
When the two ladies finally get together to sing their duet “Marry The Man Today” [ Adelaide (Michelle Johnson) and Sarah (Michelle Crisp)] it is hard to realise that this is an amateur production; that these people have local families and jobs; that after today the American accents will go (until the next time!); and that next time we will see the gangsters, and dancers and all the stars in a completely different role.
I know my comments are harsh but the standard was so high! The welcome in the Programme advised us that a professional company, on hearing that Gislingham Variety Club were producing the show, decided not to tour our region with their version – very wise – as I doubt it was as good!