Guys and Dolls review: a ‘solid-gold’ revival at the Bridge Theatre

There’s world-class singing and dancing in a show that ‘raises the bar’

Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre in London 
Every aspect of this ‘exhilarating’ production is scintillating
(Image credit: Manuel Harlan/Bridge Theatre  )

With hits ranging from One Man, Two Guvnors and The History Boys to Miss Saigon, it is fair to say that Nicholas Hytner “knows how to put on a show”, said David Benedict in Variety. So it was always likely that if he took on “arguably the greatest musical comedy ever written”, he’d produce something special. But he’s done more than that. His production of Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls is a “solid-gold knockout” that raises the bar – as well as the roof – sky high, and that could happily run forever.

His “game-changing” masterstroke (with designer Bunny Christie) is to stage the piece in the round, on a series of platforms that rise and fall in front of a promenade audience, said Andrzej Lukowski in Time Out. There’s seating if you prefer. But the buzz from being right beside “world-class singing and dancing” makes this a “transcendent” experience.

It’s not just the innovative staging, though, said Nick Curtis in the Evening Standard. Every aspect of this “exhilarating” production is scintillating. The choreography, by Arlene Phillips and James Cousins, is “astonishing”. The 14-piece live swing band is “glorious”, said Sarah Crompton on What’s On Stage. And the performances all feel “fresh-minted” – digging below the “period cliché and the gambling lingo to discover the truth of misplaced loves and longings”. Daniel Mays is superb as Nathan Detroit, combining “street smarts” with a wary vulnerability. Marisha Wallace is sensational as his perpetual fiancée, Adelaide. Andrew Richardson, in his professional theatre debut, is “astonishingly charismatic” as the gambler Sky Masterson; and Celinde Schoenmaker, as the Salvation Army sergeant Sarah Brown, sends “shivers down your spine” with the “beauty and glory” of her singing.

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Between them, these four sublime performers “mine the twin love affairs on view for all their emotional heft”, said Matt Wolf in The New York Times. “They sing splendidly, and break your heart, too.” Indeed, the whole of this blissful production turns Guys and Dolls into “something as touching as it is tuneful”. There is “nothing I could wish more for theatregoers than to experience” it for themselves.

Bridge Theatre, London SE1 (0333-320 0050). Until 2 September;

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