From the second the orchestra began playing to the moment to final curtain drew, it was hard not to be gripped by the phenomenal performance of Guys and Dolls showcased at the Riley Smith Theatre. Stage Musical Society are without a doubt one of the leading performing societies within the University and this show was just another fine example of their fantastic portfolio. There wasn’t a foot set wrong or messed up line in sight, and each and every cast member gave powerful and convincing portrayals of their characters.
Guys and Dolls is a much loved stage classic which has been performed countless times, from the bright lights of Broadway to amateur productions. It tells of the story of a 1950s New York City, where gamblers rule, and three small-time gamblers, Nathan Detroit and his entourage of Benny and Nicely-Nicely Johnson are trying to set up a ‘crap game’ (a type of dice game). However, they have Lt. Brannigan hot on their back and they’re practically out of venues to host the game in – but they have one more option, a bar that requires a $1000 deposit. Knowing this is their only option, Nathan Detroit hopes to secure the finances by winning a bet against Sky Masterson, a notorious gambler who will bet on anything. Nathan cunningly devises he believes he cannot lose – he gets Sky to take a ‘doll’ of his choosing to dinner in Havana, Cuba, and he chooses Miss Sarah Brown for the mission, someone who would rather chew off her arm than be involved with a criminal. This is only the start of the intertwining dramas and struggles that happen during this play, creating a fun and gripping story that constantly has you wondering just what situation the various characters will encounter next.
This storyline needs a cast that is determined to work hard and give 110% for fear of the play becoming pantomime like. Fortunately, not one performer looked out of place throughout the entire production, showing just how talented the members of SMS are – special credit goes to Richard Upton and Sam McCagherty for their convincing and charismatic portrayals, and equally commendable were Hannah Elkins and Emma Hooker for their outstanding vocals.
Year upon year Stage Musical Society produce yet more elaborate and creative shows, and it’s a wonder that they can still top their previous performances. It goes to show that with a little (or a lot in their case) of talent, a bit of imagination and hard work what can really be achieved. This was a show worthy of Broadway and cast members it wouldn’t be surprising to see on a national stage one day.
Images: Robert Palin