Before last night, everything I knew about 'Guys and Dolls' came from that episode of The Simpsons. But now, Beeston Musical Theatre Group's (BMTG) production of 'Guys and Dolls' has allowed me to appreciate the true story, complete with great songs, lively dance numbers and well-timed comedy.
Set in 1930s New York, the musical tells the story of con man Nathan Detroit (Jake Gelernter) and his attempts to set up a crap game (apparently it's a dice game, not a game that's a bit rubbish) whilst hiding the fact from his long-term fiancée Miss Adelaide (Jodie Lakin). Gelernter's facial expressions were brilliant, conveying his bewilderment as events begin to spiral out of his control, whilst Lakin's well-timed coughs and sneezes (Miss Adelaide suffers from a constant cold) made for some excellent comedy moments.
To earn a bit of extra cash, Nathan ends up placing a bet with gangster Sky Masterson (Rhodri Denton). The bet in question: that Sky cannot persuade devout Christian Sarah Brown (Emily Rebecca Owen) to go to Havana with him. Sky's attempts to woo Sarah were brilliantly funny, and Owen and Denton both had excellent chemistry.
The best pairing of the evening, however, has to go the Lu Anthony and John Hand as Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Anthony eating the equivalent of a three-course meal over the course of the show) and Benny Southstreet respectively. The two gangsters weren't particularly crucial to the plot, but they provided many laughs and also a great rendition of the titular song 'Guys and Dolls'. With fellow gangsters, the fearsome Big Julie (Maisie Cutts) and the deadpan Harry the Horse (Gareth Morris), the musical could have felt over-stuffed with too many similar characters - but what I particularly enjoyed about this version is that each character felt very distinctive, making the story very easy to follow.
I cannot stress enough how professional this show was, with incredibly high production values. The production team (George Lamb as director, Beth Yearsley as choreographer, Chris Toon as musical director and Katie Bird as production manager) have done a great job in bringing this musical to the stage. The musical also featured favourite songs such as 'Luck Be A Lady' and 'Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat', with the main cast supported by a strong chorus of 20 (including mine and Sam's friend Alice!).
An excellent evening of entertainment that has made me very excited for BMTG's next production.
'Guys and Dolls' plays at the Duchess Theatre until Saturday 29th October. For more info, see their website: https://bmtg.org.uk/
Tom Morley, October 2022