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Newbury Musical Theatre Society - Guys and Dolls

9th to 12th April 2014.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

NMTS plays a winning hand

Newbury Musical Theatre Society: Guys and Dolls, at the Corn Exchange, from Wednesday, April 9 to Saturday, April 12

This was the second time that Newbury Musical Theatre Society have produced Guys and Dolls, the first being in 1988.

The appeal of this musical comes from a number of factors, the unique and comic writing of Damon Runyon, whose stories it is based on, the strong music score by Frank Loesser, and the original book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

Many will also remember the successful film version, with an all star cast including Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons, in 1955.

From the opening overture by the orchestra, conducted by Michael Evans, the show was a fast moving kaleidoscope of colour, costume, shifting scenery and effervescent actors and dancers moving gracefully across the stage.

Safe to say, I think, that this is not your average musical storyline; a New York gambler, Sky Masterson, played with panache by Martin Rogers, takes on a bet that he can get a Salvation Army-type girl. Sister Sarah Brown, played by Kate Izzard with attention to the reserved nature of her character and in possession of a strong, attractive voice, to go on a date to far off Havana with him.

The sub plot involves another low-life gangster, Nathan Detroit, underplayed nicely by Jamie Ledwith, trying to avoid marriage to the girl he's been engaged to for 14 years - Miss Adelaide, played suitably over the top by Holly Lucas. And all around are gamblers and shady characters with names like Big Jule, Harry The Horse, and Liver Lips Louie, and the members of the Save A Soul Mission.

The songs were generally very well sung and put over, with Luck Be a Lady a standout, along with Miss Adelaide's lament and Kate Izzard's strong performance on If I Were a Bell. A big feature number Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat, sung by Tony Randall as Nicely- Nicely Johnson, could perhaps have been more prominently featured on him rather than the singers around him, but it came over well overall.

I have nothing but praise for the choreography, all of the small-part actors, singers and dancers who functioned en masse, like clockwork, and the overall direction by Jeanette Maskell. Only once did one of the dancers almost lose her footing during a routine, but she recovered so quickly only the eagle-eyed would have noticed.

This was a lavish, colourful production and one for the society to be proud of.