Straight to the roll call then, and there’s Celinde Schoenmaker and Andrew Richardson bringing strong voices and plenty of pizzazz to the roles of missionary Sarah Brown and gambler Sky Masterson respectively. Daniel Mays fills every inch of the loveable rogue and clown about town Nathan Detroit, mastering his character’s comedic potential while enthralling us with his songs. Cedric Neal singing Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat as Nicely-Nicely Johnson is worth the ticket price alone, but this is Marisha Wallace’s show as wife-in-waiting Miss Adelaide. She comes to the production following her show-stealing performance as Ado Annie in Daniel Fish’s critically acclaimed Oklahoma!, and here, front-and-centre, she has us hanging on her every drip-fed word performing the show’s funniest number Adelaide’s Lament, before pumping incredible fervour into showstopping Act Two opener Take Back Your Mink.
Marisha Wallace (Adelaide). Photo: Manuel Harlan
The latter also sees Arlene Phillips’ choreography come into its own, as the Hot Box girls foot-stamp and body-roll through it with gusto. Here, Christie and Deborah Andrews’ glittery two-pieces costumes paired with pink wigs are dazzling, and a welcome, raunchy juxtaposition from the bowler hats and dapper three-piece suits stomping the stage elsewhere.
A special mention must go to the stagehands who, dressed as police, promptly but politely marshal those of us with immersive, standing tickets (for you can also watch it seated, in-the-round) between rising and falling platforms of the fragmented stage. It’s a slick operation that brings the audience as close as possible to the performers – quite the treat, given the calibre on stage – without putting them, or us, at risk.
Daniel Mays (Nathan Detroit) and Andrew Richardson (Sky Masterson). Photo: Manuel Harlan
‘Where is the orchestra?’ you might wonder. You’ll spot their purple, glittery manuscripts shimmering out from the circle – another refreshingly unconventional element to Hytner's staging.
Guys and Dolls could be described as an entry-level musical with its simple will-they-won’t-they love stories, softie criminals and ability to wrap matters up a little too neatly. In dressing it up extravagantly and making its staging the main event, Hytner makes this Golden Age show feel thrilling and immediate.
‘You can’t help who you fall for’ is the unspoken motto underlying the story of Guys and Dolls. You probably won’t be able to help falling for this production either, because it’s immersive theatre at its best.
|What||Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre review|
|Where||Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, London, SE1 2SG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
27 Feb 23 – 24 Feb 24, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£15 - £125|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|