By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: 3 March, opens 13 March and runs through 2 September 2023 RUNTIME: 160 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)
Marisha Wallace is scene-stealingly sensational in this revival of a musical theatre classic as nightclub singer Miss Adelaide, a role often played for laughs rather than deploying the killer voice Wallace has.
- Read on for reasons including how this is 1 of the best revivals of a show we have ever seen
The actress, currently Olivier-nominated for Oklahoma! (Young Vic) which has just transferred to the West End without her, opens Act 2 with the sizzling Take Back Your Mink and when she and Celinde Schoenmaker’s Sarah duet Marry The Man Today it’s so funny yet true it’s the song of the show.
Which is saying a lot because there are so many great songs.
Director Nick Hytner’s last promenade production at this venue was A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2019 which won our Best Revival monsta and this Guys And Dolls is so assured and so much fun that we would say it’s up there with the frankly astonishing still Cabaret at The Kit Kat Club.
You join us in the Bridge Theatre’s Pit with the stage rising through the floor and cast members brushing past us as they enter and exit a stage which morphs into different shapes depending on the show’s needs.
You can take drinks into the Pit area and although standing up throughout a 160-minute show with interval is a little tiring the experience is more than made up for by the sheer thrill of occupying a similar space to those on stage.
Hytner is better known for his operas rather than his musicals although he did win a Tony and Olivier Award for his National production of Carousel and the fact this production is already running for at least 6 months is a sign of confidence in it that is well-placed.
The Bridge Theatre opened October 2017 and has staged more than 20 productions with its strongest being its promenade performances allowing immersion like this 1 and Julius Caesar which show off the flexibility of this impressive venue.
Guys And Dolls has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It is based on 2 short stories by Damon Runyon and premiered on Broadway in 1950, where it ran for 1,200 performances and won the for Best Musical. Its 1955 film adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.
It’s the story of Nathan Detroit (played with humour by Daniel Mays (The Caretaker, Old Vic) who won’t marry his long-term girlfriend Miss Adelaide and bets friend Sky Masterson (a charismatic Andrew Richardson) that he can’t persuade Schoenmaker’s Salvation Army-employed Sarah to go on a date with him to Havana.
This is also the most gay-friendly production of Guys and Dolls we can ever remember with a sexy same-sex recreation of dancing in Havana and Katy Secombe’s (Les Miserables: the Staged Concert) crossdressing nightclub host being most memorable.
Elsewhere Cedric Neal’s (Back To The Future) Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat was this production’s showstopper.
We think part of the appeal of Guys And Dolls is that it is a musical which can speak to straight men about their fear of women who want to marry them trying to change them as it’s a theme which is mused upon by many of the cast here.
This 1st preview won a well-deserved standing ovation and we’d recommend embracing the chaos and insanity of the Pit in this promenade production which is 1 of the best revivals we have ever seen.
If you want another reason it is that Marisha Wallace is fast becoming won of the rising stars of West End musical theatre and this is a show which maximises the most of her considerable talents.
- Main picture via Facebook courtesy Bridge Theatre Tickets
- Have you seen a Bridge Theatre show before and what did you think of this 1? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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