GUYS And Dolls has been described ‘a joyous and vibrant celebration of Prohibition-era New York’, perhaps the reason it has become a firm favourite with amateur musical companies over the years.
At the Playhouse this week, there’s a rare chance to catch a professional production of the piece based on the colourful stories by American journalist Damon Runyon, who was renowned for his vivid fictional depictions of the gamblers, hustlers and nightclub singers of old New York.
The multi award-winning musical premiered on Broadway in 1950 and with popular numbers such as Luck Be A Lady and the show-stopping Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat, soon proved a hit.
It tells the story of Nathan Detroit, who desperately needs money for an illegal dice game.
That’s not Nathan’s only worry, there’s also the problem of his 14- year engagement to nightclub singer Miss Adelaide, whose patience is finally running out.
Enter notorious gambler Sky Masterson, a guy who can never turn down a bet, and straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown, a doll with a heart of ice.
Nathan’s wager is that Sky has to romance Sarah by taking her to Havana for dinner and in return he’ll provide a dozen ‘sinners’ for Sarah’s mission.
Surely this is one bet Nathan absolutely can’t lose?
The Chichester Festival Theatre revival of Guys and Dolls finds former Coronation Street heart-throb Richard Fleshman taking on the role of Sky Masterson, while one-time star of Emmerdale and The Colbys, Maxwell Caulfield, is Nathan Detroit.
Fleshman, 26, says, “It’s uplifting, it’s funny, it’s sentimental, and has some of the best songs.
“It hasn’t changed in any way that you’d want it to away from what makes it so special and yet it has this whole fresh kind of feel to it.”
West End stars Louise Dearman and Anna O’Byrne play Adelaide and Sarah Brown respectively.
Louise Dearman, who actually played the role of Sarah Brown on the West End, adds, “I was in the Donmar Warehouse production in 2006, which was a very different version to this one, but it’s genuinely one of my all-time favourite musicals.
“It’s got such heart, it’s funny and the music is just thrilling. And the story is wonderful too. It genuinely has something for everyone.”
Guys And Dolls, Playhouse, Greenside Place, today-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinee 2.30pm), £15-£49.50 + £4 transaction fee, 08448-713 014