REVIEW: ‘Guys & Dolls’ – The Island Savoyards

What a way for the Island Savoyards to finish their 50th Anniversary season!

Guys and Dolls is a well-loved classic, and deserved fuller houses than it had: a feel-good show packed with toe-tapping standards such as ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat’, ‘If I Were A Bell’, ‘A Bushel And A Peck’ and ‘Luck Be A Lady’, it was executed brilliantly by the cast throughout.

Holly Gardiner was a sensational Sarah Brown: she was vocally flawless, and made Sarah not only believable but loveable. Her rendition of ‘If I Were A Bell’ was truly standout – it’s not easy to ‘act drunk’ without going over-the-top and losing the quality of the vocals, but Holly absolutely nailed it, as she did every scene and song.

Opposite her as Sky Masterson was Bertie Everson, whose effortless vocals and easy chemistry with Holly’s Sarah made him the perfect choice to play the esteemed gambler, and he had the audience rooting for him from his first entrance.

Daniel Farmer as Nathan Detroit and Harley Mackness as Miss Adelaide were similarly well-matched; Daniel’s smooth-talking Nathan versus Harley’s endearingly shrill Adelaide made for some lovely comic moments, and their performance of ‘Sue Me’ was especially memorable.

The supporting cast was strong, and featured a host of both stalwarts and newcomers to the Island Savoyards, including David Kast as Lieutenant Brannigan, Kim Ball as General Matilda B. Cartwright, Paul Stevens as Arvide Abernathy, Andy Kay as Big Jule, and Paul Smith as Rusty Charlie.

A shout-out must go to Paul Smith, who due to cast illness stepped in to play Rusty Charlie in what is one of the show’s most unexpected earworms: ‘A Fugue For Tinhorns.’

Rodger Hooper and Rob Bingham as Benny Southstreet and Nicely-Nicely Johnson respectively were highly entertaining. Bingham’s vocals in ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat’ were outstanding, and every time he appeared with a new snack stuffed in his mouth the audience couldn’t help but laugh.

The choreography by Rosie Sales traversed a wide range of styles, each excellently suited to the number in question; in particular Adelaide’s Hot Box Dancers brought a great energy to their routines, and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat’ was a show-stopper.

The Island Savoyards are renowned for their sizeable orchestras, but this normally comes at the price of balance between the music and the vocals – not so in Guys and Dolls, the balance was perfect, in every single number. Kudos to singers, musicians, sound techs, and MD Andrew Woodford alike, it was fabulous to be able to hear every word without losing the ‘big band’ sound.

It was impossible to leave the theatre with anything other than a smile – director Peter Reed should be proud, as should every member of the cast and crew.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Island Savoyards!

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