Thursday, March 02, 2006

Guys and Dolls

I went to Guys and Dolls yesterday. For some reason I seem to know all the songs and can sing along with "I'll know," "Guys and Dolls," "Luck be a Lady," "More I cannot wish you," "Sue me" and all the other songs, though I was never in it and have not owned a recording. It must have something do with the fact that I was young the first time I saw it.

The plot of G&D has to do with compulsive gamblers and people trying to save their souls. Nathan Detroit provides the crap game: the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York.

How can you resist a musical with an honest to god fugue? It completely works. There are wonderful songs you can never forget. There is romance--two of them, in fact. There is a woman with a permanent head cold who must sing through her nose. There is dancing and wonderful masculine energy everywhere you look. And at the end there is redemption.

We will ignore that maybe Nathan Detroit, played by Nigel Lindsay who looks great in a fedora, and Sky Masterson are a bit whipped at the end. As a woman am I supposed to not notice these things? Sky will have to break out from drum beating, but Nathan might be happy as a steel worker.

Of the musicals I have seen in London, I enjoyed this best. The pace from number to number works brilliantly, and the amplification was at least under control. I'm more comfortable with the idea of miking performers who are required to both sing and dance. In this production everyone dances. They dance in Havana, they dance in the sewer, and best of all, they dance while Nicely Nicely is advising us to sit down and stop rocking the boat. The production was conservative with nothing to distinguish it from a revival (in opera parlance that means remounting an old production--in musical parlance you would have wondered what I could be talking about.)

This production was originally mounted to showcase the talents of Ewan McGregor who has now passed on to other things. I guess Nigel Harman as Sky Masterson was a bit edgier. Jenna Russell as Sarah Brown was marvellous. She danced, she sang, she acted her Major Barbara-like character to perfection.

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