Guys and Dolls follows gambler Nathan Detroit and his fiancée, the club singer Miss Adelaide, who waits impatiently to be married, but after 14 years of waiting, fears it may never happen. Meanwhile, Detroit is in trouble as he struggles to find a venue for his latest game. After meeting fellow gambler Sky, Detroit bets him $1000 that he cannot take a doll of his choice out for dinner. Full of self-confidence, Sky agrees, only to find that the doll in question is the pious Sarah Brown.
I love a bright and bold musical and Guys and Dolls is definitely both of these things. I missed its original short run at The Savoy so when I was able to score some cheap tickets for its opening week at the Phoenix Theatre I was very pleased indeed. I was a bit sad to learn that Jamie Parker was not moving with the show though as I had hoped to see him on stage prior to him taking up the role of a middle-aged Harry Potter in the Cursed Child. Instead we were treated to Oliver Tompsett in the role of Sky Masterson who was an absolutely fantastic alternative. As a huge comic book show fan I found it really bizarre seeing the Mayor of Gotham up on stage singing but it was much preferable to that of Spiro as Miss Adelaide, whose simpering tones grated on my greatly.
Putting aside the rather sexist premise – the dolls all want nothing more than to settle down while the guys want quite the opposite – after all the show is set in the 50’s, the show is actually quite fun and provokes a lot of laughs. It could use some work on the pacing with it seeming to ebb and flow, dragging at some points (mostly between musical numbers) and feeling a little too fast paced at other. The music should always be the star of any West End musical and even if you’re not familiar with the show you’ll likely still find yourself humming along to some of the classic tunes such as “Luck be a Lady” and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat”.
The choreography is beautifully executed by a fantastic ensemble cast (the scene in Cuba most springs to mins) against a backdrop of bright flashing lights but the rest of the set dressing is kept to a minimum. The ever-changing poster adverts in the background the only real clue to the change of location between scenes but it’s enough. It’s another long runtime at almost 3 hours total but it doesn’t feel like it lasts nearly as long as Les Mis did. Instead it’s a show that will leave you feeling light of heart and tapping your toes as you head on home.