ALL THE CLASS WITHOUT THE FLARE
Guys & Dolls - Plaza Theatre, RAODS, October 2011
In a nutshell, it’s 1950 New York and Nathan Detroit needs $1,000 in order to host his dice game but… the one thousand bucks he ain’t got. Enter Sky Masterson and a $1k wager that he can’t take a certain doll away with him to Cuba. Add a couple of love interests and there you have the well-known and widely-loved plot for Guys & Dolls.
This production would be best described as comfortable. A familiar cast in the theatre where everyone knows everyone and a performance good enough to keep the loyal Plaza audience coming back for more when the next RAODS musical comes along.
That’s not to say it wasn’t good. It was. And well worth the ticket money. But on paper, it had the potential to be so much more - strong male and female choruses, experienced principals, slick chorography and a script and score up there with the best of them. What was missing? It was hard to put a finger on it. Almost like all the bits of brilliance, of which there were many, needed stringing together in order to pull off what could have been a truly fantastic show.
In a role that may as well have been written for him, Adam Meyers earned more than a chuckle or two as snack-fiend Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Partnered with equally confident Ian Watts as Benny Southstreet, Meyers’ performance was a bubbling volcano of exuberance finally erupting with the show-stealing Sit Down Your Rockin’ the Boat. But he was far from alone in the comic timing stakes; straight from the Michael Crawford school of Frank Skinner acting, Wayne Ings was on form as usual as Nathan. John Earwood as Sky had a great voice for the part although slightly lacked the necessary presence for the Marlon Brando role.
And the females… while not one of the most inspirational roles in musical theatre Alison Vincent was fine as ‘mission doll’ Sarah Brown. Conversely however, Sally Bailey in the role of Adelaide, arguably the best female role in a musical, was far from convincing as a hot box girl likely of getting the fish-eye from the hotel clerk. Not so much for her performance which merely lacked some of the class of other principals but more for the casting itself. God only knows how old her mother was as she was writing all those letters.
Also worthy of mention was Alan Pritchard’s perfectly understated portrayal of Avide Abernathy, a first-class rendition of the title song by Nicely and Benny, and Harry The Horse’s Russian upbringing.
A good show of the standard all have come to expect from RAODS.