Review by Douglas Kennedy
The Gold Coast Little Theatre’s second production in its 2023 season has been plucked from what many consider to be a golden era of Broadway Musicals.
The 1950s was a time when the Great White Way looked at the world through rose-coloured glasses, and gave us a swag of upbeat, optimistic musicals packed with largely loveable characters and memorable tunes.
Composer and lyricist Frank Loesser kick-started the memorable decade in 1950 with his adaptation of the works from the pen of Damon Runyon.
Guys and Dolls, which ran on Broadway for 1200 performances, is drawn from two Runyon short stories, The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown (1933) and Blood Pressure.
The show served up an array of loveable low lives, including Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit, as well as a band of squeaky-clean soul savers, led by Salvation Army sergeant Sarah Brown, and a bevy of showgirls headed by the delectable Miss Adelaide.
In the course of two hours plus the audience is invited to glimpse into the world of smalltime hustlers such as Nicely Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet and listen to 20 numbers including the show stoppers Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat and Luck Be a Lady. Guys and Dolls belongs to a colourful other world of near cartoon characters and tells stories of romance, floating crap games as well as wheeler dealing in the back streets of New York.
In this latest production directed by GCLT president, Stuart Morgan, the gifted stage creative has focused on the show’s magical escapist elements unfolded against the backdrop of designer Sonja Fox’s eye-catching set dotted with large tell-tale dice. Stuart who specialises in large scale big productions such as Mary Poppins, The King and I and Green Day’s American Idiot, handles the cast of more than 20 with aplomb.
However, as he says in his program note this production of Guys and Dolls is very much a collaborative effort with a large backstage crew including assistant director Ricky Moss (who also plays out-of-town gangster Big Jule and Rusty), musical director Ann Sparks and choreographer Flynn Anderson (who plays Nicely-Nicely Johnson).
The four principal players Dean Giltinan (Sky Masterson), Louise Harris (Sarah Brown), Chris Catherwood (Nathan Detroit) and Kim Reynolds (Miss Adelaide) are all veteran musical theatre performers and their expertise shines through the show. The singing, characterisations and good humour are there at every turn as the ensemble gives them the striking support they deserve. The two stand-out performers, from what are known in the show as ‘the sinners’, are Flynn Anderson (Nicely-Nicely) and Dean Bradley (Benny) in their terrific routine, featuring the Guys and Dolls song.
Once again Stuart has done a top-notch job in handling a mega cast and crew as this GCLT’s production offers an exceptionally high standard. I hear through the grapevine that matinees are booking well and the season should prove to be a resounding success from this premiere community theatre.
Note: The original Broadway production won the Tony Award for best musical and in addition to revivals being showcased internationally was made into a movie in 1955 starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmonds, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine (who was in the original Broadway production). Guys and Dolls was selected for the 1951 Pulizer Prize for Drama, but was cancelled due to writer Abe Burrows’ communist sympathies. No Pulitzer for Drama was awarded that year.
Guys and Dolls. Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser. Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Directed by Stuart Morgan. Musical direction by Ann Sparks. Choreography by Flynn Anderson. Stars Dean Giltinan, Louise Harris, Chris Catherwood, Kim Reynolds.
Booking wwwGCLT.au Phone: 07 55322096. Season ends May 6.
Licensed exclusively by Music Theatre International (Australasia).
All performance materials supplied by Hal Leonard Australia.