"it's better than even money"
by Peter Carrington for remotegoat on 07/12/12

Chloe Faine and Rebecca's Smith's Guys and Dolls is an inventive, energetic, comedic and enjoyable musical because of the love of the material and attention to detail.

The small space is home to a big ensemble of talent, expertly choreographed by Thomas Leonard in such a way that regularly leaves the audience breathless, particularly in the feisty and anarchic 'Havana'. The talent of the cast blazes as bright as the old-style adverts that dot the stage.

The four principles balance well the comedy and romance on their strong voices. Chris Purcell is suitably nervous and quirky as Nathan Detroit, twisting and turning through life juggling his crap game and Miss Adelaide. Gayle Bryans is excellent as Miss Adelaide which is always easy to play. The long-suffering relationship between the two does not however sizzle as much as that between Sky and Sarah. Natasha Cowley (who seems destined for greatness) manages to convey such a sweet charm as Sarah Brown that the audience's hearts melt as Sky's does. Philip Doyle brings a stylish charm to Sky which convincingly tessellates with Sarah's innocence.

These towering principles are supported by flying buttresses such as Nick Fyson as Big Jule, who menaces without overplaying his threat and allowing room for comedy. John Bainton is electric as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, clearly revelling in the role and forming a great duo with James Franey as Benny Southstreet. But picking out individuals is slightly unfair as the whole ensemble were superb.

The big band blasts out the tunes and every song is made memorable through the music, the voices and the action on stage. If I had to choose standout numbers (all were of a high standard), but 'Havana' and 'Luck be a lady' seemed to bring the most applause.

A mention must be made for the space and set itself, the Victorian bathouse squeezes in New York and Havana well and an ingenious set design keeps the audience delightfully surprised.

This high-quality production has an attention to detail, clearly born out of a love of the material. There are hidden gems for the audience to find but on occasion it seems that they are reluctant to let the work speak for itself; there are some nods and winks, which I found mostly hilarious but may deter a traditionalist. Perhaps this comes from having such a well- known musical which the cast and crew know so well. The audience expects many targets to be hit and this production does not hesitate to give it everything they have got to hit them.

This is a high-quality production of a favourite musical and the Doll I went with loved it - so odd are good that you will too.

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