Guys and Dolls (4 stars)

Playhouse, Edinburgh, until Sat 23 Jun, then touring


The latest industry to hop on the reality TV bandwagon, with shows like Any Dream Will Do and Grease is the Word, musicals are experiencing the biggest come back since Take That. Musicals are now cool (yes, even the Sound of Music) but some have been undeniably cool all along, including this tale of gamblers, rogues, dancers and do-gooders. Originally a Broadway hit, it has since managed to attract the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ewan McGregor and now Pop Idol’s persistent Darius Danesh.

The high rollers have arrived in town and it’s down to loveable rogue Nathan Detroit (Shaun Williamson) and his cronies to find a place for the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York‚ without the knowledge of his long term, desperate-to-be-wed girlfriend, Hot Box dancer Adelaide (Louise Dearman). In his desperation Nathan bets suave Sky (Danesh) a grand that he can’t take the mission doll, Sarah (Lynsey Britton), to Havana. Sky never loses a bet but with this doll it seems the odds are stacked against him.

Based on the 1950s characters and stories by Damon Runyon, it’s a tale of opposites, including right and wrong, love and hate, law and order and women and men. Women are searching for perfection and men are running from commitment.

Perhaps this musical’s success lies in these timeless human relationships or perhaps it’s down to Loesser’s irresistible feel good music. Either way you won’t be disappointed as the fast moving routines are executed by an energetic cast as they bound through the classic show stoppers such as ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat’ and ‘Luck Be A Lady’, the latter accompanied by a captivating testosterone filled dance. All set against Christopher Oram’s urban backdrop of smoky clubs and shadowy streets.

While director Jamie Lloyd has perhaps missed some of the underlying moments of predetermined humour, he has managed to evoke unexpected comic moments created by his slightly caricatured characters. Ex-Eastender Williamson’s cheeky chappy has more charm than you could shake dice at and Danesh cuts an undeniably dashing figure as Sky, famously immortalised by Brando, who subsequently made anyone singing that role sound good. Dearman and Britton play their polarised characters admirably; the latter’s rendition of a blootered bible-basher after one too many dulce de leches is particularly memorable. For a night of cool entertainment, this is a safe bet.

(Greer Ogston)

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