Review – Guys and Dolls: Bringing Broadway to Bloomsbury

Sam Whittaker reviews Guys and Dolls at the Bloomsbury Theatre.

Becky Durbin Ben Whittle bloomsbury theatre Clovis Rau guys and dolls Melissa Taylor Nick Goodman rose davis ucl ucl musical theatre

Amateur musical theatre is often just that: amateur. A mixture of average singing, poor dancing, and second-rate production is usually the order of the day. However, you’d be sorely mistaken if you expected any such mediocrity from Rose Davis’s production of Guys and Dolls now showing at UCL’s own Bloomsbury Theatre.

From the band’s first note to the final curtain call, the audience can expect an endearing love story laced with music, comedy and surprisingly good American accents. But, what audiences shouldn’t expect is a production of Guys and Dolls like any before.

Director Nick Goodman promises a cleaner, more refined version of the piece and on this he has delivered. The set is minimal; consisting exclusively of two metamorphosing dice that transform to provide each scene. This proves to be a masterstroke of directorship. The removal of unnecessary clutter allows the audience to focus on the real strength of the production: its cast.

All of the production’s leads are superbly talented and possess real chemistry. Ben Whittle’s portrayal of Sky Masterson is flawless, so too is Clovis Rau’s portrayal of Nathan Detroit. Their performances are so genuine that they provoke a sense of admiration from the audience for the most unlikely of characters.

However, the real stars of the show are Melissa Taylor and Becky Durbin – the production’s female leads – who are just phenomenal. Both possess classical voices, those reminiscent of the era in which the piece was written. Together they elevate the production into the extraordinary.

But, to say that they do this own their own would be unfair to the fantastic ensemble supporting them. For it is the ensemble numbers in this musical, expertly choreographed and beautifully performed, which are truly memorable.

Rose Davis’s production of Guys and Dolls is of such quality that you’ll be questioning whether it really was a student production. It’s a definite must-see and with tickets selling fast you better be quick!

Photographs by Mustafa Shafqat.