Steph Rowe - 20th February 2011
Guys and Dolls based on the work of Damon Runyon and his story The idyll of Miss Sarah Brown. Set in the hustle and bustle of New York in 1952, this musical follows the story of Sky Masterson (Robbie Scotcher) who hits town and falls for a bet with Nathan Detroit (Ben Fox) a small-time gambler, that he can take any girl he wants to Havana. When Nathan names Sarah Brown (Laura Pitt-Pulford), a beautiful Sergeant at the Save-a-Soul Mission run by the Salvation Army he decides this is the girl Sky must win, and it is from here the sparks begin to fly.
From the moment the cast first appear onstage amidst smoke, and stand there opening up their instrument case’s, where instead of the expected guns they produce a variety of instruments and promptly start playing a medley of hits from the show, you know you are about to experience a unique take on this classic musical. Peter Rowe have given this musical the Actor/Musician treatment which makes the 3hr 15minute running time fly by thanks to his swift direction and nicely handled comic touches.
The flexible stage design by Libby Watson of a Broadway Street lends itself easily to the inside of the Save A Soul Mission, The Kat Scratch Club and the dingy environment of the New York Sewer System this is enhanced by the magnificent sound design from Kevin Hayes and stunning lighting by Nick Richings.
Robbie Scotcher as Sky Masterson is sublime, playing the role with such panache and confidence, his character suitably changing depending on his ‘role’ as gambler, or Salvationist. A role so far removed from his recent credits in Blood Brothers as the moody Narrator it is great casting and easy to see why the character of Sarah (Laura Pitt-Pulford) would easily fall for Sky’s bad boy charms. The chemistry between the two is tense with sexuality and desire from the start and it is a delight to watch on stage. Credit must also be given to Susannah Van Den Berg who manages to bring each and every character she is given to life with such enthusiasm and energy, she also has a tremendous singing voice. Johnson Willis as Arvide Abernathy was a pleasant surprise, such rich depths and tones from his singing voice is something very special indeed. In fact it is hard to pick out single actors from the cast, this is ensemble performance at its best and is clearly and evidently one of the hardest working companies currently on tour.
Guys & Dolls is guaranteed to keep young and old glued to their seats, enchanted by the magic that is happening in front of them. This is a definite must see show and deserves each and every one of its five stars.