Guys and Dolls (3 stars)

Review: Guys and Dolls

Fine acting takes centre stage in this touring musical production

Few songs in musical theatre hit the back of the net quite like ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat’. The rise and fall of the tempo, the swell of the chorus, and the perfectly timed choreography which usually accompanies it all conspiring to whip audiences into an almost evangelical frenzy.

So, unsurprisingly, this particular production of Guys and Dolls milks the song for all it’s worth, giving it a belting reprise in response to a crowd that’s clapping like it’s the end of the show.

But then, if there’s one thing this 1950 musical does well, it’s big showy numbers. Yet oddly, despite choreographic input by dance legend Carlos Acosta, this new production from Chichester Festival Theatre feels a little lack-lustre. In truth, it’s the acting that shines – with Maxwell Caulfield as Nathan Detroit and Louise Dearman as Miss Adelaide (pictured) scooping the performance crowns.

Perhaps it’s the low-key set, perhaps it’s the lack of truly strong voices (Jack Edwards as Nicely-Nicely Johnson aside, who is a vocal powerhouse) but it’s not until Dearman and Anna O’Byrne as Sarah Brown belt out ‘Marry the Man Today’ (the penultimate number), that the goosebumps finally arrive.

Touring now.

Guys and Dolls

  • Directed by: Carlos Acosta
  • Written by: Jo Swerling

Frank Loesser's musical based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon.

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