Style that still lets the bride shine...
Guys and Dolls
Director and Choreographer: Kyla Thorburn
Musical Director: Bill Holland
Cast: Werner Viln, Sian Atterbury, Jennifer Moss and members of the Cape Town Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Venue: Artscape Theatre
until: November 10
When it comes to directing a hoary musical like Guys and Dolls, two important options present themselves: either update the material and give it a contemporary edginess, or re-create the era of the work in question.
Director Kyla Thorburn has chosen the latter approach and the result is a charming period piece, familiar to the older generation and instructive to young members of the audience. A production of broad appeal.
A strong point of this show is the staging, which optimally exploits Artscape Theatre’s technical facilities; Tina Driedijk’s sets provide the perfect backdrop for the frenetic society of Runyonland, complemented by Faheem Bardien’s evocative lighting and Liam Cookson’s sound design.
The setting is as important as the characterisation, since the plot of Guys and Dolls is inconceivable without the society in which it evolves. Attention to detail is meticulous. Costumes, too, courtesy of Penny Simpson, have the authenticity of a period fashion catalogue.
Director Thorburn keeps the action moving briskly to ensure audience attention; set and costume changes are rung with professional slickness, and the executants have the stamina to maintain the requisite pace throughout this lengthy production.
Stamina is also apparent in the sustained performance of the accompanying orchestra under the baton of Bill Holland.
Werner Viln in the lead role of Sky Masterson offers a plausible reading of his character, helped by a commanding stage presence and suave good looks. His voice is well suited to lyrical solos such as My Time of Day and I’ve Never Been in Love Before, though he is not entirely confident in the lower register. Partnered alternately by Sian Atterbury and Jennifer Moss (as Sarah Brown), he is a supportive vocalist in duets.
Atterbury and Moss shine equally in the female lead, as they capture the engaging blend of puritanical innocence and latent sexiness that make Sarah Brown an attractive persona. Atterbury has a high-octane voice that holds its own effortlessly above the orchestra, while Moss achieves heart-melting sweetness in sentimental songs like I’ll Know.
Predictably, all the leads struggle with the New York accent characteristic of Runyon’s creations, but on the whole they pass muster.
Miss Adelaide’s dolls of the Hot Box Nightclub, the dancers in El Café Cubana, as well as the guys executing the Crapshooters Ballet in a New York sewer, do ample justice to Thorburn’s choreography, evincing tight ensemble and a high level of energy.
Dennis Benneyworth deserves mention for his convincing portrayal of Sarah Brown’s wise, gentle grandfather. Michelle Galloway, as Nathan Detroit’s sniffling fiancée Miss Adelaide, sings and dances up a storm, well partnered by Andrew Weiss as Detroit.
This Guys and Dolls promises fun for everyone.