#"Oh it's Good Old Reliable Nathan..."# Guys and Dolls UKTour
The UK touring production of Guys and Dolls arrived at the Liverpool Empire this week, direct from rave reviews in the the West End (it's still playing there too, with Sophie Thompson and Jamie Parker). We'd bought tickets for my sister's eighteenth (she's been a big fan since the last tour, starring a very suave Darius from Pop Idol) and I'm very glad we did! The tour boasts a brand new cast: Richard Fleeshman (Corrie, All the Small Things, Ghost on Broadway) takes on the iconic Marlon Brando role of Sky Masterson, while Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2, Dynasty) plays good old reliable Nathan Detroit. They may have been the only 'names' but the whole cast was fantastic. We had an understudy for Adelaide too, and she was fab.
Guys and Dolls originally premièred on Broadway in 1950. A story of gamblers and girls set in New York city, the musical is based on the short stories of Damon Runyon (particularly The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown and Blood Pressure) with music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser. 1955 saw the appearance of a movie-musical adaptation starring Marlon Brando (singing!) Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine.
I love the film, so it's sad that a couple of the songs aren't in the show (Woman in Love and Adelaide) but there is another (and arguably nicer?) duet between Sky and Sarah in the Woman in Love spot, a number for the two leading ladies and a really touching little song between Sarah and her Grandad (the old guy in the mission) all unique to the show. And of course all the old favourites.
If the missing songs were my one, very small, disappointment, what was it I loved? Well, everything else. The staging was clever, the dance numbers were great - especially the Havana scene - it made me laugh and Richard Fleeshman has the most gorgeous, classy singing voice (and looked great in that suit.) I was worried he might be a bit young for Sky, but he pulled it off. Sarah had a great voice too and acted a very convincing drunk, while Adelaide and Nathan made a great comic pairing. And the accents weren't cringey. I'm no expert on American accents, but I thought the actors all did alright.
I think my favourite bits were probably Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat (which got the biggest clap of the night) Sarah and Sky's first meeting and Luck be a Lady. And the Hot-Box numbers were fun too. Kudos too to Big Julie and the General of the mission, who made a lot out of their small-ish parts, as well as Nicely-Nicely, who completely owned Sit Down you're Rocking the Boat.
Overall, Guys and Dolls was the best show I've seen in a long time, with one of the most talented casts (Maxwell Caulfield well deserved to be a big star - damn it Grease 2!) My face hurt afterwards from smiling so much. If the tour's on it's way to a city near you, I would recommend you book. I loved it.
(P.s Can we bring back 'doll' as a word for girl, please? It's cute. And anything's better than 'bird.' Eurgh. )
Image credits: http://www.theatreroyal.com/whats-on/2016/guys-and-dolls/,http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-news/review-guys-dolls-liverpool-empire-11054588