Theatre

Review: Guys & Dolls dazzles at the Phoenix Theatre

After a thrilling end-of-year run at the Savoy Theatre, Guys & Dolls has now transferred to the Phoenix Theatre, where it shines with sheer joy and exuberance.

Along with the move have come some inevitable cast changes, with Samantha Spiro – last seen alongside Jim Broadbent in A Christmas Carol – now taking on the role of Miss Adelaide. Richard Kind joins her as Nathan Detroit, while Siubhan Harrison and Oliver Tompsett join as Sarah Brown and Sky Masterston respectively. And you can expect more to come, with Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson now confirmed to be taking over the role of Miss Adelaide from 28 June.

The plot of Guys & Dolls is a classic: Nathan Detroit, desperate to pay a debt to keep his nightly craps game going, bets fellow gambler Sky Masterston that he can’t convince a woman (a “doll”) of his choosing to go to Havana with him on a date. The debonair, charming and suave Masterston (played by Tompsett with aplomb) accepts the bet; he’s sure he can convince any woman to go with him. But Detroit chooses Sarah Brown, the virginal, strait-laced missionary trying to rid the city of gamblers and sinners, which poses something a problem for the risk-taking Masterston.

Guys and Dolls photo by Paul Coltas

Photo: Paul Coltas

Alongside this, while trying to keep mobsters and debt-collectors at bay, Detroit also has to face up to the duty of his 14-year long engagement to his own doll, Miss Adelaide, star of the local cabaret club, who is now desperate to tie the knot.

All four leads are perfect, but it’s Spiro who is especially excellent as Adelaide. In short, it’s a role she was simply born to play, and every moment she is on stage is golden, so it will be interesting to see how Wilson tackles the role come June. For now, Spiro’s partnership with Kind is particularly glowing, and in the musical numbers, she’s simply untouchable: songs like A Bushel and a Peck perfectly demonstrate Spiro’s comedy prowess, while Marry the Man Today and Adelaide’s Lament show us a softer side to her rich, wonderful tones.

A huge part of Guys & Dolls’ continuing charm is, of course, the brilliant music, and with a soundtrack so full of standards, even those theatregoers who claim to be completely unfamiliar with the show’s story will surely recognise most of the soundtrack. For the seasoned Guys & Dolls fan, it will come as no surprise that a clear stand-out is the magnificent Luck Be A Lady, which Tompsett frankly knocks out of the park, rolling his die in hope of changing his fortune and repairing the damage he has done to his relationship with Sarah Brown.

Guys and Dolls photo by Paul Coltas

Photo: Paul Coltas

Meanwhile, Sit Down You’re Rocking Boat, the other sure-to-be recognised number, simply blows the roof off the theatre. Gavin Spokes as Nicely Nicely Johnson, thus far little more than a charming double act with the wonderful Jason Pennycooke, completely owns this iconic moment, especially when he teams up with Lorna Gayle as General Cartwright during the number’s chaotically brilliant second half. Special mention also has to go to ensemble member Lucie-Mae Sumner, who plays one of the missionaries with such gusto that she almost steals the show.

Guys & Dolls is an ebullient production. From the very opening number, everyone has a smile on their face both onstage and in the audience, and that feeling of adulation sticks with you both throughout and well into the night afterward. We guarantee you’ll be going home with a huge grin on your face and jazz hands at the ready – hell, we’re still like that a whole week on! 

Guys & Dolls is booking until January 2017. Rebel Wilson joins the cast from 28 June 2016 for a eight weeks only. Get your tickets now at Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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