25 November to 5 December 2015
Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
The classic Broadway musical ‘Guys and Dolls’ returns to the West End this winter, proving that luck is certainly a lady for the Chichester Festival Theatre, whose production follows their smash hit revival of ‘Gypsy’ straight into the Savoy Theatre. One of the most popular musicals ever written, the show is frequently described as the most perfect musical, combining stunning musical numbers, hilarious characters and an romantic boy-meets-girl story.
As with all the performances at Birmingham New Alexandra there was a warm welcome with plenty of staff on hand to show you to your seats. It does get busy in the bar area and often it’s quite difficult to find seats, so if you would like to have a sit and drink prior to the show make sure you arrive early (and allow for Birmingham traffic). Once you are in the theatre there is a refreshment kiosk (where you are able to leave your coats which normally has a shorter queue and you can pay for your NCP car park ticket here to miss the queues at the end) where you can buy some sweets, wine and water for in the theatre itself.
Once you arrive in the theatre staff are readily available to show you to your seats. Once we sat down and took notice of our surroundings the stage came alive; the staging is just like the posters! Mock billboards which were illuminated (at different times) concaved around the stage to give the illusion of depth to the stage. Each billboard was individually mounted and was lit up, and as the play progressed the lighting continually changed to give the feeling of the scene being in a street, then to a bar, then to a “mission”. This in itself was a triumph and helped the audience engage with the performers.
Essentially this is a love story between Mrs Adelaide (Sophie Thompson) and Nathan Detroit (David Haig) who have been “courting” for over 14 years but with reluctance from Nathan Detroit to change his lifestyle (gambling) or commit to Miss Adelaide. However, as the show progresses you become to love Nathan and realise he bows to peer pressure and Miss Adelaide becomes the ever positive person who would do anything to have her Nathan as a husband. Before I go any further this would be a good point to try and portray the singing in words… I am not sure how many words there are for amazing, brilliant, spine tingling at times (I am now going to look these up in a thesaurus!). Sophie Thompson brought Miss Adelaide to life, she made me think of her as being a bit “crackers” but a fragile lady who just wants her man full time! However for me it was David Haig (Nathan Detroit) and Siubhan Harrison’s (Sarah Brown) voices which took the show to a different level. Their vocal range, control and acting was inspiring, made you feel their emotions and get carried away with the songs. During the first half you started to realise the impact the Crap Game has on the community (cast).
What I did love about his show is the way in which the staging was changed whilst singing – if you blinked you would have missed it! It was seamless and you didn’t realise that you had been transported back into the streets! This for me, was a huge success and made me realise the quality of performance in all aspects.
All the songs got feet tapping, and shoulders moving and I defy anyone to say they weren’t humming or singing along to Luck be a Lady and Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat (a personal favourite!).
As the show progresses you start to get the taste of a second love interest between the unlikely couple of Sky Masterson (a big gambler) and Sarah Brown a missionary who is seeking to cleanse all people of their sins. The relationship develops in front of your eyes and you gradually see Sky Matterson changing his “habits” and Sarah Brown her vision on the “sinners”.
The costumes were brilliant, and there was a scene which reminded me of a Bucks Fizz performance on Eurovision. And if you are trying to Make Your Mind Up about going to see this show all I can say is you won’t be disappointed!
Is this another happy ending? Well you will need to go to the show to see…
Tickets cost from £15 to £47.50 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Guys and Dolls is at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham until 5 December 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS