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Guys and Dolls, Norwich Theatre Royal review: Great cast and staging bring Broadway to life

From left: Joseph Betts as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Craig Loxston as Benny Southstreet, Phil Ormerod as Sky Masterson, Nick Bird as Nathan Detriot and Chris Davidson as Rusty Charlie in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society

From left: Joseph Betts as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Craig Loxston as Benny Southstreet, Phil Ormerod as Sky Masterson, Nick Bird as Nathan Detriot and Chris Davidson as Rusty Charlie in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society

Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society

I am a big musicals fan, but not a very active one.

Phil Ormerod as Sky Masterson and Holly Graham as Sarah Brown in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Operatic SocietyPhil Ormerod as Sky Masterson and Holly Graham as Sarah Brown in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society

Lack of opportunity, and lack of anyone willing to sit through them with me, means I haven’t seen as many on stage as I would like.

So when the opportunity to watch Guys and Dolls at the Norwich Theatre Royal came up, I jumped at it.

I took a friend who was very familiar with the show. She span me a tale of spectacular songs with intricate harmonies and seamless scene changes which transported you right into the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

And the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society’s rendition did not disappoint. The company brought Damon Runyon’s characters to life in the classic boy-meets-girl storyline with humour, wit and great vocals.

Andrea Ferguson as Adelaide and Nick Bird as Nathan Detroit in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Operatic SocietyAndrea Ferguson as Adelaide and Nick Bird as Nathan Detroit in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society

Holly Graham, who played mission girl Sarah Brown, was a strong focal point. Her stunning vocals and the effortless way she commanded the stage made her captivating to watch.

Phil Ormerod as Sky Masterson was smooth and charismatic, but also convincingly loved-up after the pair’s sojourn to Havana. Listening to Graham and Ormerod duet, particularly in I’ve Never Been In Love Before, was mesmerising.

Meanwhile Nick Bird made a fabulous Nathan Detroit, bringing a sort of nervous energy to the role which complemented the character, and Andrea Ferguson gave a strong performance as his long-suffering Miss Adelaide.

Detroit’s cronies Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny and Rusty Charlie performed their close vocal harmonies in songs such as Guys and Dolls with real skill.

Phil Ormerod as Sky Masterson with the Hotbox dancers in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls.Phil Ormerod as Sky Masterson with the Hotbox dancers in the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society's performance of Guys and Dolls.

Joseph Betts as Nicely-Nicely stood out from the crowd – particularly in his excellent, animated rendition of Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat.

Scenic projection was used to great effect to create seamless moves between the New York City streets, the Save-a-Soul Mission and the Hotbox.

As a musician I love a live band and the 19-strong orchestra in Guys and Dolls excelled, both in the songs and the incidental music between numbers.

The choreography, overseen by director Chris Cummings and assistant Nicola Brooks, was spectacular, from the dance during the opening number on Broadway to the sequences during Havana – which included some Dirty Dancing-style lifts.

Guys and Dolls runs at Norwich Theatre Royal until January 26.

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