Review by Jack Foley
THEY came to see Ewan McGregor but the audience had plenty more
to cheer about after witnessing the crowd-pleasing revival of
Guys & Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre
on Saturday, June 25, 2005.
Everything about Michael Grandage's convivial take on Frank Loesser's
classic play works a treat, from the lively dance routines to
the witty camaraderie that exists between every cast member.
It's a terrific night out at the theatre and one which truly
sets the West End alight, effortlessly justifying its reputation
as the hottest ticket in town at present.
McGregor is, of course, the production's biggest draw - a charismatic
performer who has emerged as a major box office force in his own
right following the success of films such as Star
Wars and Trainspotting.
Yet he has gambled well on choosing to make Guys & Dolls
his West End musical debut, surrounding himself with a talented
ensemble who more than do justice to one of Loesser's best-loved
Joining him on-stage are the likes of former Ally McBeal star,
Jane Krakowski, Born and Bred star, Jenna Russell, and established
stage star, Douglas Hodge - all of whom prove adept at stamping
their own personality on proceedings.
McGregor plays Sky Masterson, the warm-hearted gambler who bets
that he can take Russell's Bible-thumping Salvation Army girl,
Sarah Brown, to Havana.
While Hodge is Nathan Detroit, a fellow gambler desperate to
organise a face-saving crap game while trying to avoid finally
getting married to Krakowski's love-struck Miss Adelaide.
The fun is in watching how these
two lovable rogues fall for their respective women and come to
see the error of their ways.
At a little over two and a half hours, Guys & Dolls
fairly zips along, placing a smile on the face from the outset
that frequently gives way to laughter and cheering.
Several of the set pieces were met with thunderous applause that
were a tribute to the breath-taking choreography of Rob Ashford
and the welcome familiarity of Loesser's songs (all of which were
McGregor shone when called upon to perform the rousing Luck
be a Lady, while Krakowski performed two memorably risque
numbers in Bushel and a Peck and Take Back Your Mink.
Both appeared to be having fun, with Krakowski especially cheeky
as the ditsy Miss Adelaide, a kooky yet adorable romantic foil
for the put-upon Detroit.
Yet McGregor, too, looked more comfortable than many critics
have given him credit for, exuding an easy-going charm that translates
well to the audience.
His chemistry with Russell is perfect, while his singing and
dancing doesn't look out of place with the talented performers
Of the support, Martyn Ellis is probably the pick of the bunch
as Nicely Nicely Johnson, another of the gamblers, whose late
rendition of Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat is one
of the night's big show-stoppers.
Yet there is so much to see and enjoy that a second trip is almost
essential - not least the Havana sequence, when the stage comes
alive with the hot-blooded rhythms of Cuba.
Guys & Dolls is, therefore, as safe a bet for a
terrific night out as you could possibly wish for. It delivers
its thrills in spades.