Frances Winston really enjoyed this theatre production of the well-known Damon Runyon story – Guys and Dolls
Shows 7.30pm nightly. Matiness 2.30pm Wednesday 27th, Thursday 28th and Saturday 30th
This classic musical has landed in Dublin fresh from a 13-week run in London’s Savoy Theatre. Many people are familiar with the 1955 film featuring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando in the lead roles. However, new songs were added to the movie version at the expense of some of the popular stage numbers, and there really is nothing like seeing this kind of show live.
Of course, as is the norm with these big touring productions, there are a couple of well-known faces in the cast. Maxwell Caulfield who, depending on your age, you’ll either remember from Grease 2 (the less said the better) the Colby’s, Casualty or Emmerdale, and Richard Fleeshman, who once walked Corrie’s hallowed cobbles playing Craig Harris, take on the male lead roles. They are ably supported by experienced stage stars Louise Dearman (Wicked) and Anna O’Byrne (Love Never Dies) as the female leads.
The story is pretty straightforward. Set in prohibition era New York, wide boy Nathan Detroit (Caulfield) is trying to get the money together to set up an illegal dice game, while also avoiding a walk down the aisle with his long suffering fiancé of 14 years, Adelaide (Dearman). Meanwhile Sky Masterson (Fleeshman) is a notorious gambler who could well be Nathan’s meal ticket, since he will take any conceivable bet. When Nathan challenges him to convince strait-laced missionary, Sarah (O’Byrne ) to visit Havana with him, he pulls out all the stops to win. But his feelings for Sarah soon become more than a bet, while Nathan begins to reconsider life with Adelaide when one of his dice games gets a little too heavy.
This is classic musical theatre at its best. It doesn’t rely on big effects and rather lets the story and the staging tell the story. The songs will not be as familiar to contemporary audiences as some musical scores, making it an extremely pleasant surprise when they turn out to be so catchy. The cast give it their all, and special mention has to go to Dearman who is a joy to behold as the lovelorn Adelaide. The choreography is excellent and they have resisted the temptation to update it, keeping it very old-school in keeping with the era it is set in. The scenes between Sarah and Sky in Cuba are hilarious as she finally lets her hair down, and O’Byrne displays tremendous comic timing. The build to the climax is well-paced, and the energy never wanes until the end.
Great fun and with plenty of laughs, it is the lack of familiarity with audiences that lets this down slightly, and some catchier numbers that would usually see people clapping or singing along suffer slightly. On the whole though, this a an entertaining night’s theatre that will leave you with a smile on your face and humming its best known song – Luck Be a Lady – for hours afterwards.