Guys and Dolls

Previewed 10 December 2015, Opened 6 January 2016, Closed 12 March 2016 at the Savoy Theatre in London
Transferred 19 March 2016, Closed 21 August 2016 at the Phoenix Theatre in London

The acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre's revival of Frank Loesser's classic musical comedy Guys and Dolls in London.

Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight 'mission doll,' out to reform the evildoers of New York's Time Square; Sky Masterson, the slick, high-rolling gambler who woos her on a bet... and ends up falling in love; Adelaide, the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she's been engaged to the same man for 14 years; Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiance, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game.

Directed by Gordon Greenberg with choreography by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright, designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Paul Groothius. Guys and Dolls has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows based on Damon Runyon's tales of New York City.

When this production opened at the Savoy Theatre in January 2016, prior to transferring to the Phoenix Theatre, Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail highlighted that, in "this blistering production... with inventive choreography and extensive use of dry ice and blue lighting, there is no shortage of spectacle." Henry Hitchings in The London Evening Standard described how "Gordon Greenberg’s revival looks gorgeous, sounds timeless and is alert to every opportunity for humour... it's energetic and at times genuinely magical." Michael Billington in The Guardian hailed it as being an "expert revival." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph commented that, although "the new year may have started in a welter of lousy weather... one undimmed musical masterpiece bequeathed to us by Broadway giant Frank Loesser is lighting up the West End like a heaven-sent shaft of summer sun... the 26-strong ensemble throw everything they've got at this - energy, gusto, devotion." Ann Treneman The Times extolled how "this production is bursting with that most American of words — pizzazz... the dancing is extraordinary and, at times, nothing short of spectacular." Neil Norman in The Daily Express said that, "making its West End transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre, Gordon Greenberg's production retains much of its fizz and energy in spite of extensive cast changes and shoe-horning the set into a traditional proscenium arch stage." Sarah Hemming in The Financial Times wrote that "Gordon Greenberg's revival is irresistible... this is a warm-hearted, effervescent show, sprinkled with scintillating choreography from Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright." Paul Taylor in The Independent praised this "exhilarating Chichester Festival Theatre production... the dodgy dice-rollers in Gordon Greenberg's snappy, fast-paced production are a constant source of delight" in "this joyous revival."

"Surely the most insanely pleasurable of musicals, Frank Loesser's 1950 masterwork transfers from Chichester with its throng of scoundrels, showgirls, high-rolling gamblers and holy-rolling Salvationists. The book is pure jokes, the songs are belter after belter. Gordon Greenberg's lightweight but buoyant production features limber choreography from Andrew Wright and Carlos Acosta, and plays out like Broadway street theatre before a colourful fan of vintage ads." The Sunday Times

"The 1940s-set story of a group of New York ne'er do wells clashing with a troupe of missionaries - intent on saving their reluctant souls from their happy life of sin - has captivated audiences for generations. And this production will win more hearts. A vibrant explosion of energy, it captures all the colour of Damon Runyan's stories while adding polished choreography... With numbers like Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat and Luck Be a Lady Tonight from an ensemble cast who light up the stage, it's the sort of theatre you thought they didn't make any more." The Sunday Mirror

"The theatre critic Kenneth Tynan rated Guys And Dolls, in which Frank Loesser's sparkling numbers erupt like fireworks from Abe Burrows's boisterous, blissful narrative, as the 'second best American play' - his top being Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman... Even a copper-bottomed show with, as Eyre put it, 'a life of its own and a heart as big as a skyscraper' can't guarantee perfection every time, however. Michael Grandage's 2008 production with Ewan McGregor couldn't eclipse the indelible memory of Eyre's. Nor can Gordon Greenberg's, which opened at Chichester in summer 2014 and has now transferred to the Savoy. Highly polished yet oddly lacklustre, if occasionally outstanding, it falls short of raising the rafters or bringing an audience, filled with fans who know every song by heart and bursting to let rip, to its rapturous feet... In the scene in the sewers, the gamblers - all terrific - dance up a storm for Luck Be A Lady. But Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat kept the audience glued to their seats, characteristic of a production that never quite manages to find a life of its own, never mind skyscraper heights." The Mail on Sunday

"Gordon Greenberg's current production originated 18 months ago in Chichester where I, along with my colleagues, afforded it a warm welcome. It is sad to report that, despite the predictable whooping of the first night audience, much has been lost on its transfer to the Savoy. Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright's choreography is as splendid as ever. Acosta may have been hired because of the nightclub sequence in Havana, but he proves himself to be just as much at home in New York and even pokes fun at his own classical background, with a gangster version of the Dance of the Cygnets from Swan Lake." The Sunday Express

Damon Runyon's writing - columns, poems, anecdotes, and stories for mass consumption - fed the public's voyeuristic interest in both celebrity and criminal culture. His style vividly rendered the speech of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups, giving voice to the feelings of those who may not have had a university education and who were not privy to highbrow culture. He wrote over seventy short stories between 1929 and his death in 1946 for popular magazines like Collier's, Cosmopolitan, and occasionally the Saturday Evening Post. While the venues of these stories often included various racetracks in Florida, Maryland, and upstate New York and descriptions of their gambling machinations, the point of view is always that of a New York City narrator, and it is thus appropriate to term all of Runyon's stories 'Broadway' stories. Hilarious, high-spirited, sophisticated, and insightful, they showed how differently the underclasses lived from the wealthy and how life was hardscrabble for many New Yorkers. Broadway was the quintessence of the melting pot, and Runyon revelled in its variety; the road to prosperity for lower East Side Jews and other immigrants often went straight through Times Square. Runyon was not merely an observer of urban life; he was also a player who interacted with the Broadway figures criminals, gamblers, chorus girls, and journalists - he described. He gave his readers a unique insider's sense of New York in the period between the world wars, with a special focus on the moral ambiguity of the Prohibition era (1920 to 1933) when alcoholic beverages were banned in America. Despite his cynicism, he made his reputation by revealing New York City to outsiders and showing them its seamy side, even as its inhabitants held out the hope that their dreams, like his and that of Sky and Sarah in Guys and Dolls, might be fulfilled.

This production was originally staged at the Chichester Festival Theatre in August/September 2014. The original 2015 London transfer cast for this staging featured Sophie Thompson as 'Miss Adelaide' and Jamie Parker as 'Sky Masterson' who both reprised their roles from Chichester. Sophie Thompson's West End stage credits include playing 'Tess' in Joanna Murray-Smith's play The Female Of The Species at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2008 and the roles of 'Bev/Kathy' in Bruce Norris' play Clybourne Park at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2011. Jamie Parker's West End credits include the role of 'Mike Connor' in Maria Friedman's revival of Cole Porter's musical High Society at the Old Vic Theatre in 2015 and the role of 'Guildenstern' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Haymarket Theatre in 2011.

Guys and Dolls in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 10 December 2015, opened on 6 January 2016 and closed on 12 March 2016, transferred to the nearby Phoenix Theatre from 19 March 2016 and closed on 21 August 2016


Guys and Dolls - 2005 to 2007 at Piccadilly Theatre

Previewed 19 May 2005, opened 1 June 2005, closed 14 April 2007 at the Piccadilly Theatre in London

Directed by Michael Grandage with designs by Christopher Oram, choreography by Rob Ashford, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Terry Jardine. The original cast features Ewan McGregor as 'Sky Masterson', Jane Krakowski as 'Miss Adelaide', Douglas Hodge as 'Nathan Detroit' and Jenna Russell as 'Sarah' along with Martyn Ellis as 'Nicely Nicely Johnson' and Niall Buggy as 'Arvide Abernathy'.

"You could complain that musicals are an excuse for a thin boy-meets-girl plot strung out with formulaic numbers, and there is plenty in the West End's past to fit that bill. Guys and Dolls, the foot-tapping adaptation of Damon Runyon's stories of Broadway in the Thirties, is the antidote. It's the story of Nathan Detroit, an inept gangster who has run an illegal crap game since he was a juvenile delinquent, but has run out of venues. To raise the cash to hold the night's game he has a wager with ladies' man Sky Masterson - he's called Sky because he bets higher than anyone - that he can't take Salvation Army girl Sarah Brown on a date to Havana. Meanwhile, Nathan's long-suffering fiancee Miss Adelaide is trying to pester him into marriage - between engagements as a stripper. The plot twists like a tornado and this fast-moving comedy with its authentic feel of the underbelly of 'Noo Yoik' would make a great play in its own right. The magic comes from Frank Loesser's music and lyrics - great songs like Luck Be A Lady and Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat, where every wisecracking line brings a new joke. There was a superb production at the National Theatre in the Eighties, which was revived in the Nineties, and this one on the much smaller stage of the Piccadilly Theatre can never have the same oomph. There isn't room for showy sets so director Michael Grandage has gone for atmosphere more than spectacle, so you really could be in the Manhattan sewer where Nathan's game finally takes place." The Daily Express

"Jo Swerling and Abe Burrowss adaptation of Damon Runyon's Broadway fables about a charmed criminal underworld couldn't be wittier, and Frank Loesser's music and lyrics are a sequence of surefire hits which never fail to bowl you over. But Grandage's production is a bit lacklustre, dowdy even, in Christopher Oram's design... I can see what Grandage is up to. He's out to strip this wild, escapist fantasy of its romance and reveal it as something more realistic. Which surely misses the point of a fairytale love story between a no-good gangster and a goody-goody God-squadder. While he succeeds in reminding us that the book is so good it would work as a play even without the fabulous score, he overdoes the temperance... Twice, Rob Ashford's sizzling choreography brings the house down." The Mail on Sunday

Guys and Dolls in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 19 May 2005, opened on 1 June 2005 and closed on 14 April 2007