GUYS AND DOLLS
25/06/2021 - 03/07/2021
The Wellington Footlights Society is proud to present its first production for 2021, Guys and Dolls.
Wellington Footlights is excited to be putting on this ensemble spectacle with a fun twist on some of the show’s greatest characters. “While undoubtedly a little dated in its attitude to women, it’s been fantastic to explore such an old classic from a modern viewpoint,” says director Michael Stebbings. A fan of the show since childhood, Stebbings is excited to direct it despite its challenges. “The music is just so rich and evocative,” he says, “and while each is flawed in their own ways, the camaraderie between the characters is such a joy to play with.”
Guys and Dolls weaves together the tales of Sarah Brown and Nathan Detroit, Salvation Army Sergeant and life-long gambler respectively. Her New York City mission is failing and on the brink of closure, Sarah is sucked into Nathan’s world by an enigmatic wanderer, Sky Masterson. Meanwhile, poor Miss Adelaide, nightclub singer and Nathan’s long-suffering fiancée, just wants to settle down.
Nadia Newman, who plays Miss Adelaide, has loved working with the cast and creative team “it is so fantastic being able to all come together and work towards something exciting!”
Wellington Footlights is excited to return to the Gryphon Theatre to perform this Frank Loesser classic with popular tunes such as ‘Sit Down ,You’re Rockin the Boat’ and ‘Luck Be A Lady’.
Guys and Dolls is considered one of the classics of American musical tradition so come and see Wellington Footlights tell this timeless story – we promise an unforgettable night of song and dance, gambling and romance!
Tickets are now live at ticketbooth.co.nz. $30 full price, $25 for concession and a group discount of $25 pp for groups of 10.
Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington Central
25 June – 3 July 2021
Tickets available at https://events.ticketbooth.co.nz/event/wfguysdolls
Miss Adelaide - Nadia Newman
Nathan Detroit - Ed Blunden
Sarah Brown - Emily K Brown
Sky Masterson - Marley Richards
Arvide Abernathy - Vishan Appanna
Lt. Brannigan - India Loveday
Nicely-Nicely Johnson - Helena Savage
Benny Southstreet - Mike Bryant
Rusty Charlie - Stanford Reynolds
Big Jule - Renée Iosefa
Harry the Horse - Margaret Hill
Joey Biltmore - Aoife Walsh
Angie the Ox & Master of Ceremonies & Mission Band - Luke Burke
Agatha & Mission Band - Letitia Garrett
General Matilda B. Cartwright - Catherine Gavigan-Binnie
Director - Michael Stebbings
Music Director & Pianist - Stephen Clothier
Choreographer - Mel Heaphy
Production & Rehearsal Stage Manager - Alex Chippy Compton
Production Stage Manager - Tessa Alderton
Lighting Designer - Devon Heaphy
Lighting Operator - Riley Gibson
Props Manager - India Loveday
Costume Designer - Emma Stevens
Costume Assistant - Cara Najar
Publicity Manager & Costume Assistant - Aimée Sullivan
Communications Manager - Samantha Burnard
Front of House Manager - Laura Gardner
Theatre , Musical ,
Strong performances, anachronistic costuming
Review by Maryanne Cathro 26th Jun 2021
Luck was not a Lady for Footlights, who opened their production of Guys and Dolls just as Wellington went into Level 2. But our Fearless Footlighters were not to be deterred, and opening night went ahead with responsible social distancing and seated service for refreshments. A true ensemble effort.
A stripped-down show with just piano and a cast of 15 on the smaller Gryphon stage, this production is an excellent opportunity to return this story to its gritty roots: a series of picturesque short stories by Damon Runyon. Crap games played in the back of shops and in the sewers, scenes on the dirty streets of New York – this was never a glamorous setting.
I love the democratic approach always seen in a Footlights production. Every actor on stage gives their all – there are no small parts or small performances. And in a musical with so much character, this carries the show.
Nadia Newman and Ed Blunden as Adelaide and Nathan deliver solid comedy performances together – their duet ‘Sue Me’ is a delight.
Emily K Brown and Marley Richards as Sarah Brown and Sky Masterson are at their best in the musical numbers, their vocals are strong and well matched.
A shout out to Aiofe Walsh for her delightfully Irish Joey Biltmore and masterful last-minute stand in performance as Big Jule, wielding a script as if it were a natural prop for a high rolling gambler from Illinois. (We hope the missing performer is okay and will get to join the cast soon)
Yes, you read correctly. This Guys and Dolls has women playing many of the male parts, and good work too. The production, directed by Michael Stebbings, is richer for this!
Stand out performances for me are Helena Savage’s Nicely Nicely Johnson and Mike Bryant’s Benny Southstreet – a pair of comedic henchmen who manage to steal the stage while also leaving plenty of room for everyone else. While ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’ is a vocal challenge for her, Savage makes up for it in a great character performance.
Great vocals, great harmonies in the big numbers, as always in a Footlights show.
Great choreography especially in the all-cast scenes. The Hot Box style could have done with a little less dainty footwork and a lot more burlesque raunch but it is well executed as always.
Great lighting by Devon Heaphy and timed to perfection by operator Riley Gibson.
There’s always a but though isn’t there? When all the whistles and bells are taken away – the orchestra, the fancy sets, the larger cast, then what is left needs to be absolutely on point, and what is left is the costuming. It’s great to see male characters wearing hats for sure, and braces, but why is Adelaide wearing a sloppy drop shouldered shirt, why are the showgirls of the HotBox in white lycra and ill-fitting circle skirts and frumpy aprons for ‘A Bushel and a Peck’? Why are the Cuban women wearing modern knit sundresses? Where are the jackets, the outerwear? These details are not just to satisfy nerds like me who notice, but to set characters and truly paint a time and place in which to frame the story, even when some of the patriarchal attitudes are delightfully turned on their heads. The anachronisms make it hard to stay with the story, and it is not the first time I have seen this in a Footlights production.
Footlights is young in every respect – it is part of the appeal and we see past the casting outside of the age of characters to the strong performances. But when you have this much good stuff going on, I think it is time to step up those visual production values to complement all the other talents and strengths.
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