REVIEW Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange Theatre
Thursday 14th December 2017 @ 13:08 by Adam Higgins
Entertainment Greater Manchester

Review by Denise Evans
Pictures by Manuel Harlan

Guys and Dolls is playing at The Royal Exchange Theatre and has been extended until February 3, 2018.

It is a Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company co-production, directed by Michael Buffong. This classic musical and 1950’s Broadway fable is based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.

The book is by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and is relocated from Broadway to uptown New York, in Harlem during its renaissance, celebrating the exuberance of that era in Black America spanning the 1920s. The sensational songs include Luck Be a Lady Tonight, and Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat.

The production is performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited. The talented all-black cast includes fine classical actor and former Coronation Street character Ray Fearon as Nathan Detroit.

The Guys are all governed by gambling as they hustle their way through life with underground craps games that showcase the showstopper Luck Be a Lady Tonight. Ashley Zhangazha plays the role of Sky Masterson whose world is turned upside down when he crosses paths and becomes smitten with the soul-saving Salvation Army Sarah Brown (Abiona Omonua).

Zhangazha is sleek and exquisite in the role and Omonua is outstanding. Nathan Detroit’s long-suffering fiancée Miss Adelaide played by Lucy Vandi tries relentlessly through 14 years to win a ring on her finger and the scenes between them are pure magic. Vandi is sensational as she commands the stage with comedic grace and her delivery of A Person Could Develop a Cold is compelling.

Vandi splendidly sings Pet Me Poppa, replacing A Bushel and a Peck which was written by Loesser for the 1955 film. Marlon Brando played the character of Sky Masterson in the 1955 Samuel Goldwyn film adaptation with Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine. Ako Mitchell (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) superbly led Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat.

All characters played their parts to perfection and the musical arrangement and energetic choreography was spectacular. The production received rapturous applause and a standing ovation and I absolutely loved this production. It is a special treat throughout the Christmas season with memorable performances that will stay with you.

To book tickets, you can ring the Box Office on 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk/whats-on-and-tickets/guys-and-dolls.