Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Guys and Dolls review – new, improved cast at Phoenix Theatre, London

Oliver Tompsett as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls in the re-cast Guys and Dolls at London's Phoenix Theatre. Photo: Johan Persson Oliver Tompsett as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls in the re-cast Guys and Dolls at London's Phoenix Theatre. Photo: Johan Persson
by -

Originally booked only for a short West End season at the Savoy ahead of a regional tour, this Chichester production has now got a welcome simultaneous double life. The original production has transferred to the Phoenix with three of its four principal roles recast, while a separate company is touring it. It’s a show and a production that fully deserves the exposure.

And the transfer cast actually improves on the first West End iteration, upping my review from four to five stars — though in fact I’d like to award 27 stars, one for each member of this rich company.

Leading the thrilling new trio of principals is Samantha Spiro, replacing the over-egged Sophie Thompson as Miss Adelaide. She brings an irresistible quirky generosity to a performance that is vivacious and hilarious. There’s less self-awareness than Thompson supplied, and far more nuance, vulnerability and need. Her deeply original take on Take Back Your Mink, rendered in the comic tribute to Diedrich, is the best I’ve ever seen.

She is ideally partnered by Broadway veteran Richard Kind as Nathan Detroit, whose timing is spot-on, his plasticine features rearranging themselves at will to brilliant effect.

Meanwhile, Oliver Tompsett newly joins Siubhan Harrison, who has stayed on from the previous cast, to make the unfolding romance of professional gambler Sky Masterson and ‘mission doll’ Sister Sarah Brown, look and sound both sexy and utterly inevitable. Their dreamy vocals are a marriage made in heaven, taking the musical honours of the evening. Olivier nominee Gavin Spokes’ Nicely-Nicely Johnson is now joined by Jason Pennycooke’s dazzlingly elastic Benny Southstreet, making a comic and musical treat of the title song.

There’s not a misplaced note anywhere, and Gareth Valentine, still conducting in the pit, ensures that this greatest of Broadway scores delivers a brassy punch.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
A great production of a great show is improved further by some welcome newcomers to the company