Guys and Dolls comes crashing into the Wolverhampton Grand this week as it narrates the tale of Sky Masterson (Richard Fleeshman) a swish gambler with a bet that he can seduce young, innocent missionary Sarah Brown (Bethany Lindsell). Lying parallel to this, the story also follows the all but perfect, unconventional coupling of Nathan Detroit (Max Caulfield) and Miss Adelaide (Louse Dearman) all in a world of Gambling Guys and Dancing Dolls.
A propaganda-esque signage set the scene for a 1950s world of Coca-Cola, Wrigley’s Gum and Oreo sandwiches! A series of posters, billboards and signs – all surrounded by bulbs – filled the stage and were creatively used to change scene, setting and mood. Perspective within Peter McKintosh’s set furthered the depth of the stage and the illusion created by the signage. Some clean and aesthetically beautiful moments were created with the set through Tim Mitchell's lighting. A particularly striking moment was the gambling underground scene where patterns filled the stage and gusts of smoke, through the tunnel set, really helped to take the scene into the under passages of New York. Alongside the well-presented choreography leading into Luck Be A Lady Tonight, the audience was pulled in by the tension of the gambling game. A definite show stealer!
Overall, the cast was strong, with a show-stopping performance of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat led by Nicely-Nicley Johnson (Jack Edwards), which enthralled the audience. Other standout performances came from the comically genius Louise Dearman who controlled the stage with her brash and melodramatic portrayal of Miss Adelaide.
Although there were some fine dance sequences, at times the stage felt sparse in the larger dance numbers. However, further excellence was delivered through the orchestra, who led the show particularly well with a perfect balance between music and dialogue.
Peter McKintosh's costume and set design coordinated beautifully, and successfully transported the audience into a world of 1920s New York with dazzling dresses and some dapper suits. In particular some beautifully period gangster shoes reflected nicely on the shiny deck of the stage.
Aside from the brash musical numbers, Gordon Greenberg cleverly directed some important moments and morals for gender roles within the show. These were contextually explored well with questions raised on what it meant to be a 'guy’ or a ‘doll' in scenes between Sky and Sarah where their roles in the show are under questioning. The scene between the two female protagonists - Miss Adelaide and Sarah Brown who, despite being in corrupt gambling relationships, decide to force their fiancés to elope and marry, furthers this underlying theme of gender stereotypes.
Be warned this show does swing well into the night with a long running time, so make sure you extend your car parking ticket as it was distracting for both performers and audience when several left during the finale to avoid a parking fine. Despite this, the performance was well received by the audience and this Olivier-nominated revival certainly lived up to its expectations. Luck be a ticket holder tonight at the Wolverhampton Grand!
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