Some critics clearly do not read their programmes closely enough. (And yes, that includes me: I’ve occasionally miscredited actors and other creative personnel.) But sometimes the billing can be confusing, too, and it is difficult for critics to work out just who is responsible for doing what.
Take Chichester’s new production of Guys and Dolls that opened last week. The creative team billing lists, on separate lines and in the following order, these personnel:
Director Gordon Greenberg
Designer Peter McKintosh
Choreographer Carlos Acosta
Co-Choreographer Andrew Wright
But at least two of the reviews so far have unduly given the entire choreography credit to Acosta, without so much as giving Wright a namecheck. In the Guardian, Mark Lawson refers to Acosta as “a choreographer known for erotic energy” and says:
[He] creates routines that never forget that dance was a socially acceptable version of what guys and dolls really wanted to do. The nightclub number Take Back Your Mink becomes a lusty, thrusting striptease recalling the Berlin of Cabaret, but Acosta also gives a real rapturous Pentecostal energy to the mock-devotional song Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.
Meanwhile, in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts writes:
The stage itself is frisky with movement. Carlos Acosta’s choreography has wit, variety.
Elsehwere, in Fiona Mountford’s Evening Standard review Acosta’s talents are trumpeted from the headline, and flagged up again in the second paragraph. It isn’t until the second to last paragraph that Wright gets so much as a mention.
And in the Daily Telegraph Charles Spencer makes a stab at guessing what Acosta might have been responsible for:
Two choreographers are involved, the Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta, who I would guess is responsible for the delirious rumba sequence when the action briefly relocates to Havana, and Andrew Wright.
At least he gave due credit to Wright, though of course we can’t definitively know what Acosta was responsible for without spying on the rehearsals.
I can’t help feeling Wright has been seriously short changed here, and critics have fallen for the cult of Acosta’s greater celebrity. Perhaps the theatre is also complicit owing to the way they have billed the two men, with Wright taking second place, on a separate line to Acosta.
A lot of the pleasure of this Guys and Dolls does indeed reside in the exhilarating dance, just as Wright’s work on Chichester’s Singin’ in the Rain was also a large part of that production’s success. I hope that if and when Guys and Dolls transfers to the West End, Wright’s own contribution is properly noted by both critics and by the programme designers.