A perfect juxtaposition of country-house charm in venue and urban sophistication in material, this joyous revival of Frank Loesser’s 1950 Broadway classic is utterly traditional in its look and feel. However, director/choreographer Nick Winston honours its old-fashioned virtues while also adding quirky flourishes. To cite one hilarious example: Will Kenning’s literally towering Big Jule causes the rest of the room not just to quake in his presence, but to actually shake whenever he sits down.
Then there’s the choreography: movement is embedded into every song, but the big balletic showpieces pulse with momentum, all shrugging shoulders, angular knees and breathtaking athleticism.
The show is also a triumph of characterisation. Casting director Anne Vosser has assembled a superb company throughout the ranks. It is led from the front with touchingly true portraits in feminine vulnerability from Holly Dale Spencer as the Miss Adelaide (to Daniel Robinson’s wonderfully panicked, commitment-phobic gambler Nathan Detroit) and Harriet Jones as the sweet-voiced Sister Sarah (who finds herself falling for Simon Thomas’ tall, slick and dashing professional gambler Sky Masterson). Also giving great support are Graham Hoadly as a kindly older missionary Arvide Abernathy and Daniel Stockton’s endearing Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
Philip Whitcomb’s design may be more lower Manhattan than Times Square, with a sliver of Brooklyn Bridge peeking through and the Save a Soul Mission moved from 49th Street to the Bowery, but it is vivid and versatile.
“No doll can take the place of aces back to back,” claims Sky. He finds out that’s not true, but this ace show delivers back-to-back pleasure.