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Rebel Wilson ‘fearless’ in Guys and Dolls – review at the Phoenix Theatre, London

Rebel Wilson in Guys and Dolls at Phoenix Theatre, London. Photo: Johan Persson Rebel Wilson in Guys and Dolls at Phoenix Theatre, London. Photo: Johan Persson
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Rebel Wilson is big, bold and brassy – in every sense. And fearless, too: the Australian-born star of Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect does not, to be frank, have a pitch-perfect singing voice – it’s a loud instrument rather than a subtle one. But she’s refreshingly vanity-free and celebrates her body.

She’s well cast as Miss Adelaide, who has held down a job as a Times Square nightclub hostess and dancer for a long time; if she was any better, she’d have left for better things. Guys and Dolls, like Cabaret, works when the leading lady isn’t much of a singer; if she was, she wouldn’t be working in this dive.

Wilson is a natural stage comedian; she nails the comedy beautifully. Miss Adelaide has also been engaged for 14 years to local crap game fixer Nathan Detroit, whom she longs to domesticate. With the highly engaging Simon Lipkin joining the cast opposite her, there’s a physical rapport between them that’s hot and intimate. They fancy the socks off each other and it shows. Seldom have I seen a more erotically charged Adelaide and Nathan, but what binds them most of all is their shared sense of humour and playfulness.

Lipkin is also a serious singer – Nathan is often played by character actors who can barely hold a note – and his rendition of Sue Me did, to quote its own lyrics, shoot bullets through me. I’ve never heard it sung so vivaciously.

There’s also a strong musical pairing from hold-over leads Oliver Tompsett as Sky Masterson and Siubhan Harrison as Sister Sarah, whose own blossoming romance in rapturously sung melodies is stunningly charted.

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Rebel Wilson proves to be far more than stunt casting in this superb revival