Something of the glitz and glamour of Broadway came to Hulme in December with the college production of perennial favourite Guys and Dolls. Described as a ‘musical fable’ Swerling’s and Burrows’ musical, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, leans heavily on characters and scenarios created by Damon Runyon in his sketches of New York life. From the back projected image of an iconic New York skyline, to the jazz tinged musical accompaniment , played with aplomb by a band of accomplished musicians under the direction of David Lloyd Mostyn and Sarah Spencer, the production drew its audience into the grimy underworld of the Big Apple, where the next chance is always the main chance.
Directors Danny Price and Pippa Beaumont had assembled a talented cast of actors who all threw themselves into the production with commendable gusto. Dalumuzi Moyo was a charismatic Nathan Detroit, displaying considerable stage presence and a superb comic touch. Jess Murphy was a perfect Adelaide, in turn gullible, sultry, flighty and feisty, all the while maintaining an impressive American accent. Stella Bracegirdle was all sweetness and light as Salvation Army sergeant and love interest Sarah, delivering her challenging songs beautifully. One of the many highlights of the show was the comic duet ‘Marry the Man Today’, performed by Sarah and Adelaide. Jack Temple was a likeable Sky Masterton, full of schemes and scams but ultimately finding love, whils t James Smart and Louis Cooper excelled as a pair of buffoonish gangsters; Louis was especially effective in his delivery of the show’s best known song ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.’ Adam Ali Gseebat and Olivia Brown worked hard as shady New York characters, and Pearly Azinwi was a suitably scary Chicago mob boss. Julia Strawinska, Beatrix Howison and Roisin Stango were convincing Salvationists and Valentina Casulli gave a touching performance in her solo. Lauren Smeaton sparkled as Mimi and Olivia O’Neill was an exasperated Lieutenant Brannigan.
The movement and choreography was of the highest order throughout, with Pippa Beaumont’s dancers outstanding in their energetic and imaginative interpretation of the Crapshooters Ballet. As ever with Loreto Performing Arts productions the off-stage back up was flawless: a band of fifteen musicians handled the musical score with flair and panache; the technical effects were directed by Tony Fennell, ably assisted by Dan Carrington and Patrick Brierly, with David Pearson supervising the sound. Indeed, one of the great successes of this show was the efficacy of the sound system: all lines were audible and the balance between speech and musical accompaniment was perfect. Alice Rouillon worked wonders with the make-up, the period detail aiding real authenticity.
Yes, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and other Hollywood luminaries might have got there first but Loreto’s Guys and Dolls entertained, amused and dazzled.