HATTON OPERATIC SOCIETY
‘GUYS AND DOLLS’ – NOVEMBER 2013
The score for ‘Guys and Dolls’ is considered to be one of the finest ever written for Broadway and its memorable tunes run the gamut of styles from romantic through streetwise and onto gospel with ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat’. It is one of my favourite musicals and having directed it I know it inside out.
Simon Payne’s 10 piece orchestra (not named in the programme) played the overture superbly and that busy opening scene, with the comings and goings of passers-by on the street was well choreographed.
The newspaper stand and the phone booth were realistic and the backcloths were appropriate although I thought the first one was a bit wishy-washy. The second one of the brick building and the underground one were very effective, as was the Mission.
With a good accent T.J. Lloyd made a likeable, Nicely-Nicely who appeared to spend most of his non-gambling time eating, and his acting and vocal ability were sound.
The ’Fugue for Tinhorns’ was a strong number and Jerry Howell as Benny managed to make a reasonably convincing move from Brummie to Bronx in the accent department. There was just enough movement in the song to make it interesting on the eye.
Mike’s physique lent itself to the role of Harry the Horse perfectly and his accent was very good.
Nathan is possibly my favourite character because of the Jewish element in his dialogue. The musical was set an area of New York that would have been full of Jewish immigrants who clung onto the Yiddish expressions. Nigel Smith didn’t quite master the accent but his acting was very good as was his singing, and he and Sarah Poore were convincing as a couple.
In that role Sarah was first class as Adelaide the long-suffering fiancé, who, despite being a dancer at the Hot Box was amazingly innocent and vulnerable. The pitch of her voice and her Bronx accent were perfect for the part
I have seen Neale Winter play a number of roles for St. Hilda’s and he has always given a commendable performance. As the suave Sky he was very relaxed and proved he can not only act but can also sing! He perhaps came across as a little less of a womaniser than Sky usually does, but I liked the interpretation.
Amanda is a talented actress (her performance as Jane Eyre was unforgettable) and this was another beautifully played role. Sarah is a gentle but passionate young woman and Amanda captured those qualities. I felt that there were a couple of times when the vocals were a little taxing for her but she carried it off well.
It was good to see John in the role of Lieutenant Brannigan and I very much enjoyed the showcase dance set in the club in Havana which he and Elizabeth performed with the confidence of a couple who have danced together for many years.
The two main characters of the Save –A-Soul Mission were suitably cast and Wally Walters as Arvide Abernathy gave a praiseworthy rendition of ‘More I Cannot Wish You’ in the touching scene with Sarah, whilst the severe General Cartwright was secure in the hands of Maggie Dean.
The Hat Box Dolls routine in ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ and ‘Take Back Your Mink’ was attractive, and the girls were sure footed – a joy to watch.
Something I hadn’t seen before was a ballet at the start of the underground crap game. Lucy Smith performed it beautifully. The men seemed superfluous to requirements at that point but once the song proper started they were back in the spotlight.
The other named supporting gamblers played their part in making the production visually and aurally successful, and Will Gething’s slight stature brought out the humour in the role of Big Julie. The two ladies playing male roles were of course clearly ladies but they took male stances and blended in with the men quite well.
A fight is never easy to choreograph but the night club fight was as convincing as it can be and fun to watch, and the Cuban costumes were wonderfully exotic.
The projection of flight on leaving Havana whilst the scenery was changed was a good idea and the sound effects were good too.
Costumes on the whole were appropriate for the period. Usually the gamblers are dressed in dark pin stripes but your choice of colourful suits for the guys was a welcome change and they certainly brightened up the stage. Mission skirts were uneven around the hem and Adelaide’s black hat was out of place. She was wearing a lightweight Summer dress and the hat was suitable for winter and one of the Hat Box Dolls forgot her gloves in ‘Take Back Your Mink’. Footwear was good.
Lighting was well plotted and performed and sound was mostly fine.
Your programme includes a comprehensive synopsis of this wonderful musical and the glossary added a finishing touch.
Clive Walker, Simon Payne and Jackie Doonan presented a polished production; I really enjoyed my evening with the ‘Guys and Dolls’
Thank you for inviting me to see the show and also for your hospitality on the evening.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy 2014.
NODA South East Regional Representative- District 12