Image: Peter Marsh/ashmorevisuals

“The entire cast performed practically flawlessly”: review of ‘Guys and Dolls’

Somehow, despite the fact that we are now in Term Two, it was not until last night that I had the opportunity to watch a piece of theatre at Warwick Arts Centre. I can only say that MTW’s Guys and Dolls did not disappoint.

There are certain difficulties with performing a show as iconic as this, even if it is fun both to perform and watch. Yet I am pleased to say that all the cast were superb.

Although some of the acting did feel a tad over-exaggerated in the beginning, it seemed to settle down, and regardless was well-suited to the comedic and musical nature of this show. Nicely-Nicely and Benny (played by Branagh Crealock-Ashurst and Stanley Tidbury respectively) fulfilled their role as an entertaining comedy duo, and Charlie Cooper’s brilliant portrayal of the frustrated Brannigan helped to keep the audience laughing.

While all the cast have delightful voices, Fisher’s stunning vocal range and Eve’s Broadway-esque voice stood out

The nice thing about Guys and Dolls is that it presents us with two couples which are, in many ways, complete opposites, and yet we find ourselves equally invested in each of them. While Nathan and Adelaide (played by Matthew Anderson and Alice Eve) have been in love for many years and seem to fulfil the stereotype of ‘the old married couple’ (oh, the irony), Sky and Sarah (Thomas Liggins and Chloë Fisher) are the young Romeo and Juliet of the play (thankfully with a much happier ending). All four actors certainly attract the audience’s sympathies, which is testament to their acting ability. Moreover, they all manage to strike the perfect balance of comedy and emotion, two extremes which I imagine it is hard to flip between. Despite the couples’ differences we root equally for both, and it is a wonderful moment when the two come together and find common ground in their problems with Adelaide and Sarah’s duet ‘Marry the Man Today’. While all the cast have delightful voices, Fisher’s stunning vocal range and Eve’s Broadway-esque voice stood out.

This was, unfortunately, slightly tainted by the fact that there seemed to be an issue with microphones cutting out repeatedly throughout musical numbers. Additionally, the show was slightly slow to get going. While I understood that the scene before the action started was meant to create the image of a hustling and bustling New York, it felt like an underwhelming opening to such a grand show, especially after seeing what the cast was capable of in later numbers. While there were places in which the choreography needed polishing, the lifts were impressive and dance numbers captivating. Furthermore, the set did at first seem simplistic, but it is clear that a huge amount of work had gone into making trap doors, rooms that could be opened out onto the stage, and signs with working lighting.

The cast absolutely lived up to all the expectations you would have of such an iconic musical

I think one of the stand-out things about this show is that the entire cast performed practically flawlessly. I had been apprehensive about the possibility of facing a chorus member who was slightly out of tune or had a horrendous American accent (only because I can’t do one to save my life – hence I am reviewing, and not starring in the show) but it is clear now that I had too little faith in this production. The cast absolutely lived up to all the expectations you would have of such an iconic musical, and particularly ‘Luck Be a Lady’ and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat’ were performed to the full all-singing, all-dancing nature of such cult show tunes. I also appreciated that the show had an open pit with a live orchestra (directed by Laurie Duncan), to further showcase Warwick’s incredible variety of talent.

I have no doubt that performing a classic musical such as Guys and Dolls would be intimidating, but all the cast and crew have produced a fantastically entertaining show that fulfils all the expectations of a big, classic musical and makes for a great night out.

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