When I bought my ticket for Guys and Dolls, I didn’t know what to expect. To my mind it’s not a really well known musical and I couldn’t think of any songs from it, so I perhaps subconsciously presumed that it wouldn’t be quite as enjoyable as previous KEVIGS productions.
I say this only to make the point that a person can be very, very wrong indeed.
As soon as the curtains opened and we were introduced to the hustling, bustling atmosphere of 1950s New York with its vast array of characters – it was clear that, as ever, Carole Ashcroft had brought us a production of superb quality and huge entertainment.
The set itself told its own story; a backdrop of skyscrapers, the flashing neon Hot Box Club sign and the newsstand, took us to a place of small time gamblers and their glamorous women, where a group of mission workers tried tirelessly but pointlessly to save them from themselves.
The play moved quickly between scenes and I was amazed by how deftly places were created with thoughtful lighting always adding to the atmosphere.
The starkness of the mission through to the seedy and sultry nightclub in Havana, even to a sewer accessed through a great pipe; all quickly came and went: further testament to Bob Ashcroft’s skill and Andrew Potterton’s clever stage management.
And linked seamlessly to this there was music. Andrew Amey’s musical direction was wonderful; always enhancing that atmosphere and never more so than in the darker places: that sleazy Cuban nightclub and the crapshooters’ late night game.
Indeed, the quality and the range of music in all the numbers showed the talents and skills of the orchestra as a whole.
Then there were the dancers. Isobel Parkes’ choreography throughout was fabulous, and particularly peaked with the saucy Hot Box numbers and the sudden removal of outfits! All of this was enhanced by some glittering and gorgeous costumes.
And through it all, we watched two love stories. There was the commitment-shy Nathan Detroit, smoothly played by an assured Craig Greaves, and his long-standing, ditzy and ever hopeful fiancé of 14 years who was made to sparkle by Alice Murray.
And there was the unlikely but touching relationship between David Amey’s sharp and charismatic Sky Masterson and the mission worker – the sweet and serious Sarah Brown, played beautifully by Emma Gorst. We couldn’t help but become involved in their journey towards love.
Did I say that I didn’t know the songs? I have no idea why.
The musical numbers were fabulous; they added yet another layer to the story and were, without exception, spectacularly executed.
It’s almost impossible to pick out particular performances but if I must, then there was the ‘dolls’’ rendition of A Bushel and A Peck which was as glamorous and showy as it should have been. There was also the ‘guys’’ performance of Luck Be a Lady which showed off their dapper yet shady characters.
And there was the lovely and moving My Time of Day/I’ve Never Been in Love Before sung exquisitely by Sky and Sarah.
For me however, the song of the night was Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat – an ensemble piece performed with great energy by all and led by the very talented Joel Jackson as Nicely Nicely Johnson.
By the end of it I was overwhelmed by the talents and efforts of all those who had combined to bring us this wonderful show and felt sorry that we had to leave them behind.
Still, I was glad that Miss Adelaide had finally got her man!