I recently had the pleasure of attending the mesmerising production of Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre in London, and I must say, it was an absolute showstopper! From start to finish. This immersive show really deserves all the praise it gets. Even the stage crew deserve praise as they moved the standing audience around during the show to allow for the stage to raise and lower at various intervals.
First and foremost, the cast was simply outstanding. From such characters as Nathan Detroit (Owain Arthur) Sky Masterson (Andrew Richardson) Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Cedric Neal). Including the outstanding female voices of Sarah Brown (Celinde Shoemaker) and the tour de-force that is Marisha Wallace who played Adelaide. Each actor brought their character to life with such power, charisma and charm, making it impossible not to be completely engrossed in their performances. The chemistry between the leads and ensemble was palpable, and their voices were nothing short of extraordinary. The energy and enthusiasm they brought to the stage was infectious, leaving us the audience in a state of pure delight.
The set design by Bunny Christie was equally impressive. The Bridge Theatre's intimate space was transformed into a vibrant and bustling world of 1950's New York City. With rising stage platforms as the show went through its story. The attention to detail was impeccable, from the neon lights, colourful costumes to the intricate set pieces. The seamless transitions between scenes were a testament to the production's flawless stage crew, enhancing the overall immersive experience.
The choreography by Arlene Philips and James Cousins was a true highlight of the show. The dance numbers were executed with precision and flair, showcasing the incredible talent of the ensemble. The choreographer's ability to blend classic Broadway moves with fresh and innovative steps was a true testament to their skill and creativity. The energy and synchronisation of the dancers were simply breathtaking and thoroughly enjoyable.
The music arrangement by Tom Brady, of course, was the heart and soul of Guys and Dolls. The live orchestra brought Frank Loesser's timeless score to life, filling the theatre with a rich and vibrant sound. From the toe-tapping melodies of "Luck Be a Lady" and “Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat” to the heartfelt ballads of "I've Never Been in Love Before," each song was delivered with passion and precision, leaving the audience humming along, (quietly of course).
Lastly, the direction of the production by Nicholas Hytner was masterful. The pacing was perfect, allowing the story to unfold naturally while keeping the audience engaged throughout. The director's vision for the show was evident in every aspect, from the seamless blocking to the nuanced performances. It was clear that every detail had been carefully considered, resulting in a truly unforgettable theatrical experience.
In conclusion, Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre is an absolute must-see for any lover of musical theatre. With the ability to stand in the middle of the stage and be part of the action was just perfect. The audience who stayed in their seats or on the stage floor during the interval were kept entertained as some of the cast song and danced. Even at the end of the show after the bows some of the cast stayed behind and interacted with the audience as a fast-pumping version of “Luck be a Lady” was played out and this allowed some of the audience to break out a few moves.
From its exceptional cast, stunning set design, captivating choreography, and unforgettable music, this production is a true gem. Where can you leave a theatre at the end of an excellent production and walk out to the Tower Bridge lit up on your right, the Tower of London in front and then stroll along the Thames along with other theatre goers who have just watched what you did and discuss various aspects of a brilliant show that you all you all shared night watching.
If you go and I urge you do. Be Prepared to be transported to a world of love, laughter, and unforgettable characters. Don't miss your chance to experience this five-star spectacle - it's a guaranteed night of pure theatrical magic! Well done the cast and crew of Guys and Dolls. Next time I will go and join them on the centre stage. It looked like pure fun.
An easy 5 stars out of 5
Reviewer Mark Bilsby