17-21 May 2016
Reviewed by Katie Allen
Snazzy suits and toe-tapping songs!
When I saw a touring production of Guys and Dolls was coming to my local theatre I was keen to check it out. I think I watched the classic film many years ago one Saturday afternoon when it was on television and I knew a couple of songs but I was keen to revisit “Runyonland” again.
The show opened with the cast in a simple but effective set of illuminated retro billboards which immediately transported us to Times Square, New York.
From the outset I knew I was going to enjoy the double act of Nicely-Nicely and Benny (played by Jack Edwards and Mark Sangster respectively). They had a great partnership and oozed charisma. We soon meet Nathan Detroit (Maxwell Caulfield) and Sarah Brown (Anna O’Byrne). The former is trying to find a place to host an illegal crap game and the latter trying to “heal” the sinners of the city. To raise a deposit for the game Nathan tries to win $1000 from Sky Masterson (Richard Fleeshman) – a gambler who’s notorious for taking wild bets. The bet they wager is that Sky can take “any doll” to Havana for dinner and Nathan choose Sarah – the beautiful but pious sergeant of the local “Save-a-Soul” Mission.
Soon enough Miss Adelaide (Lucy Jane Adcock) joins the mix. A showgirl who’s Nathan’s fiancée for 14 years. She’s understandably frustrated that their relationship has not moved on in such a long time and she’s fed up with his gambling ways and wants to settle down.
The chemistry between Sky and Sarah is immediate which makes their relationship on stage very exciting to watch. The Havana scene was a particular highlight and the choreography amazing. I thought Lucy and Anna were awesome in their roles. Lucy made the over-the-top Miss Adelaide vulnerable and likeable and you couldn’t help but root for her. Sarah is quite a complex character for a musical but Anna portrayed her inner struggle perfectly as well as having an amazing voice.
Frank Loesser’s toe tapping music throughout was infectious and I thought the audience were going to get up and join in during Jack Edward’s energetic performance of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”. The highlight of the night!
Carlos Acosta’s choreography was exciting to watch – it even reminded me of the Sharks and Jets in West Side Story – high praise indeed! I also want to congratulate the costume design – I loved the snazzy suits and the show girl’s outfits.
The Mayflower, as usual, is a great venue. Easy to get to with loads of good value parking nearby. I parked at Grosvenor Square which has a £2 flat fee after 6pm. There was the usual queue at the ladies in the interval – but show me a theatre that doesn’t suffer from this. If I had one criticism of the venue it’s the seat numbers. They are very hard to read and therefore difficult to find your seat. We weren’t the only ones using our mobile’s torches or our fingers to try and make out the numbers. I’ve been to the Mayflower many times and never experienced this issue before so I can only think that the house lights were down lower than normal.
If you’ve got a chance to see this show before it leaves Southampton do it! It is easily the best touring production of a musical I’ve ever seen. This performance is up there with the best at the West End.
Tickets cost from £25 to £44.50 (booking fees may apply).
Guys and Dolls is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 21 May 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811