Based on Damon Runyon’s stories of 1930s New York with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, Guys and Dolls is Ripon Amateur Operatic Society’s main production for this year.
My senses were assailed by the vibrant colours of the costumes and sets, fitting for scenes packed with colourful characters.
I was transported at different times of day and night from a busy street in Manhattan to a struggling mission, from a New York night club to a Cuban café.
The plot centres round the fortunes of gamblers Skye Masterson and Nathan Detroit, played respectively and ably by Kevin Burton and Steve Hibbs.
Skye will bet on anything, whereas Nathan’s focus is obtaining a venue for his illegal ‘floating crap game’. (It involves rolling dice and the rules are explained in the programme).
Thwarted at every turn by Richard Noakes’s determined Lieutenant Brannigan, he becomes desperate.
Nathan’s reluctance to marry his long term fiancée, the flamboyant but frustrated night club performer Miss Adelaide, provides both humour and pathos.
Nadia Murrell’s powerful voice and New York accent excelled.
The object of Skye’s affections, the winsome and initially prim missionary Sarah Brown is played by company stalwart Michelle Rundle.
To win a bet with Nathan, he tricks her into a dinner date in Havana and plies her with what she assumes to be innocuous Cuban milk shakes.
They are, of course, laced with rum and her increasing intoxication was a joy to behold. Michelle’s drunken rendering of If I Were a Bell was a highlight of the show.
The pairing of William Thirlaway and Nat Ireland as Nathan sidekicks Nicely Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet worked well. I enjoyed the way William led the singing of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.
Robin Withey, John Holmes and Martyn Thirlaway were suitably menacing as gangsters and I found Albert Day’s portrayal of Arvide Abernathy touching. Marguerite Moss made a stern General Cartwright and Cath Coleman (Agatha) and Alison Lonsdale (Mimi) also played their parts well.
No show directed by Phill Ruddy could fail to have imaginative choreography and the Hot Box girls made the most of it, especially in the burlesque number Take Back Your Mink. There was plenty of opportunity for the other Guys and Dolls to strut their stuff whether as gamblers, gangsters, members of the Save-a-Soul mission band or as dancers in the starlit Cuban café.
Musical director Dan Jackman and the 10-piece band did an excellent job.
Credit is also due to the unsung heroes who work behind the scenes.
The show runs at Harrogate Theatre until Saturday April 28, daily at 7.30pm with a matinee on the Saturday at 2.30pm.
Tickets: 01423 502116