Donmar & ATG Unite for West End Guys & DollsDate: 16 June 2004
London’s Donmar Warehouse has in the past been the scene of many award-winning musical successes – including Company, Cabaret, The Fix, Merrily We Roll Along and last year’s Pacific Overtures - but next year, for the first time, the theatre will mount a major musical for the West End outside its own limited 250-seat confines.
Though a venue and exact dates have yet to be confirmed, the Donmar and the Ambassador Theatre Group announced today that they will team up to revive the classic American musical Guys and Dolls in the West End in early 2005. ATG own the building where the subsidised Donmar operate independently. This will be the Donmar’s first collaboration with ATG outside its own auditorium.
The production will be directed by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage - whose other musical credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Privates on Parade and the Donmar’s upcoming revival of another Broadway hit, Grand Hotel (See News, 27 Oct 2003) - and produced by ATG in association with the Donmar’s own in-house production team.
Guys and Dolls, the “musical fable of Broadway”, has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and a book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerlin, based on the short stories by Damon Runyon about New York low-life in the 1940s.
The story centres around a group of small-time gamblers and their long-suffering girlfriends. Nathan Detroit, under nuptial pressure from his girlfriend Miss Adelaide, needs $1,000 to enter a crap game and, to raise the cash, bets his friend Sky Masterson that he can't woo the prim neighbourhood missionary, Sarah Brown.
Loesser’s score includes classics such as “Adelaide’s Lament”, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”, “Sue Me”, “Luck Be a Lady”, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” and the title song. Premiered on Broadway in 1950, Guys and Dolls first reached London in 1953 when it ran for 555 performances at the Coliseum. It was made into a 1953 Hollywood film starring Marlon Brandon, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra.
At the National Theatre, Richard Eyre mounted a multi award-winning production (programme pictured) in 1982, when Bob Hoskins and Julia McKenzie starred. Eyre’s production was revived for an extended run at the NT Olivier in 1996 with a cast that included Joanna Riding, Clarke Peters, Imelda Staunton, Colin Stinton and Clive Rowe, who won a Laurence Olivier Award for his supporting role as Nicely Nicely Johnson.
The Donmar-ATG staging will be the first new London production in 23 years. Commenting on the project, Grandage said: “It will be an enormous privilege to work on one of the greatest classic musicals of all time, and it presents an exciting opportunity for the Donmar to develop its work and style in a larger theatre space.”
ATG chief Howard Panter added, “This is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with one of the most exciting theatre companies in the world, presenting a vibrant new version (of Guys and Dolls) for today’s theatregoers.” No further creative or casting details have yet been announced.
- by Terri Paddock