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Chris High reviews Theatre

Image: Promotional image for 'Guys and Dolls'.Guys And Dolls

The Liverpool Empire Theatre
May 29 – June 9

Author: Abe Burrows, Jo Swerling & Frank Loesser
Director: Michael Grandage & Jamie Lloyd
Producer: Donmar
Cast includes: Shaun Williamson, Darius Danesh, Sarah Brown, Lynsey Britton, Christian Patterson, Miltos Yerolemou
Running time: 2 hrs 45 mins.

The first impression the audience gets of the Donamr Production of Guys And Dolls is size. With The Empire boasting the largest stage area in Britain, it needs some sort of set to fill the space and, boy, this show in no way disappoints on that score in particular. The backdrops of New York City ablaze with light, of a full Cuban moon hanging in the sky and of an underground sewerage pipeline, all take the breath away. And that’s not all. In conjunction with the vastness of the sets, the sheer enormity of the talent on display is there for all to see at each and every turn.


Image: Actor, Shaun WilliamsonShaun Williamson, playing the Dice-game fixer and reluctant groom, Nathan Detroit, is so much better in this show than he ever was in Saturday Night Fever. Every nuance and action is that of a 1940’s Gangster, but without the Tony Soprano nastiness. Here’s a schmuck-with-a-heart trying to make and “honest” buck or two and Williamson is superb at wringing everything out of his character.

Equally impressive is Louise Dearman, as Missionary Sergeant Sarah Brown. Not only can this girl sing and act beautifully, she can also dance – even when seemingly “drunk” whilst singing and dancing to If I Were A Bell – and so carries her part off as though it were a prized possession.

Image: Darius VaneshDarius Vanesh, playing career gambler and show’s focal point, Sky Masterson, clearly has ability to match his height. The former Pop Idol and Popstars icon has clearly moved onward and upwards, judging by this performance that had him twinkling amongst the other stars on show. His version of Luck Be A Lady- interspersed with an impressive, if long, dance routine – and the duet with Louise Dearman, I’ve Never Been In Love Before, being amongst the highest of highlights.

Stealing the limelight, however, were Lynsey Britton and Christian Patterson. Lynsey, as Nathan’s “Bride In Waiting”, Miss Adelaide, is just superb, with a singing voice and charisma that could ensnare the most cold-hearted.

Christian, who’s role as Nathan’s side-kick, Nicely Nicely Johnson, has the show’s true foot-stomping, roof-raising number to perform, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat and so well does he carry out his role – backed brilliantly by the ensemble – the audience might well have spontaneously combusted with delight at its climax.

Image: Stage shot of 'Guys and Dolls'.There are one or two things that bring the show down a little, such as the sound making the first number come across as a little garbled, especially as its performed with over-lapping harmonies from three different characters. There’s also the fact that perhaps the heavy New York accents are, at times, a little difficult to distinguish. These very minor complaints aside though, if ever you are going to see a musical, then make Guys And Dolls the one to see. Its huge, its loud and its just so much fun, it easily makes its mark amongst The Empire’s best shows of 2007 so far. A truly fantastic night out.
9/10.

 

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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