Critics enjoy Chichester Guys and Dolls
Gordon Greenberg's production at Chichester Festival Theatre has proved popular
…a fine addition to the roster of Chichester musicals. That's thanks to a high calibre production team… the production's highlight is Sophie Thompson's Adelaide, a richly comic performance touched with genuine pathos… Peter Polycarpou's ebulliant Nathan Detroit. Clare Foster is a nicely strait-laced Sarah Brown… Jamie Parker has a pleasant singing voice but his Masterson lacks the darker side that you'd expect to find in such a long-term denizen of the demi-monde… only Nic Greenshields' towering Big Jule gives any sense that these characters occupy a world that comes alive between midnight and four. That's a minor quibble. Loesser's wonderful songs, Acosta and Wright's vibrant choreography and, above all, Thompson's stand-out performance, deliver plenty of punch and a great adornment to the newly revamped Festival Theatre.
...The book by Abe Burrows fizzes with wit, and the music and lyrics by Frank Loesser are a thing of beauty and a joy forever… Greenberg and his cast bring a buzzing energy to the show… The company also dance up a storm… Among the performers, there is especially fine work from Peter Polycarpou as Nathan Detroit… and Sophie Thompson as the cabaret artiste Miss Adelaide… [Jamie] Parker put me in mind of the young Frank Sinatra, singing superbly and with something of the night about him, while Clare Foster touchingly captures her character's sense of hurt and betrayal before the final glow of love and confidence… I left the theatre walking on air and with a grin of pure happiness on my face.
…This production is a delight… [Sophie] Thompson's Adelaide is brassy all right, but also lovelorn and gorgeously self-aware. She mixes vulnerability with va-va-voom in a hilarious yet heartfelt turn. And though [Jamie] Parker can't entirely junk his English diffidence alongside his New World charm, he's superb too, looking composed and sounding swell… [Peter] Polycarpou is a poised putz of a middle-aged Nathan, a man trying too hard to be something he's not… at least three numbers here offer the best sort of musical-theatre high… With such a nice central quartet, the piece is a few frissons away from perfection. Yet the whole cast of 30 are in on the plan, all committed to mixing heart and humour and pain and pizzazz. This Guys and Dolls leaves the whole audience purring with pleasure.
…The show has a good band. The story is delivered with energy… But does the evening lack something? Could it do with a peppering of menace?... Director Gordon Greenberg goes for laughs… Nathan is played by that genial figure Peter Polycarpou, a Chichester favourite, and he has sufficient stage presence to fulfill Nathan's ringmaster functions… the stage itself is frisky with movement. Carlos Acosta's choreography has wit, variety… Mr Morrison justifies himself with a good rendition of "Sit Down". That song, with its unpredictable rhythms, its surreal energy, is the moment Loesser's professional artistry graduated to genius. It helps this faintly antiseptic, safe production over the line. A good evening, though not a great one.
…Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls is a series of sharp comic sketches that dissolve into great numbers… Carlos Acosta, a choreographer known for erotic energy, creates routines that never forget that dance was a socially acceptable version of what guys and dolls really wanted to do… Acosta also gives a real rapturous Pentecostal energy to the mock-devotional song "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat", uproariously performed by the Nicely-Nicely Johnson of Harry Morrison… Peter Polycarpou plays Nathan like a standup comedian dealing with hecklers, saved from panic by his rapid wit… As Miss Adelaide, Sophie Thompson wonderfully skewers every possible physical or lyrical joke in a portrayal that is less romcom than rom-farce… Gordon Greenberg's exhilarating Chichester staging comes in, unlike Nathan's horse tips, a very close second.