Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

31/10/2015 - 28/11/2015

Production Details


Gangsters, showgirls and gamblers roll in to Q Theatre from 29 October for the Audi Season of Guys and Dolls  

Auckland Theatre Company’s 2015 season closes in signature style – with a musical spectacular. The dazzling Broadway classic Guys and Dolls, directed by Raymond Hawthorne and starring Shane Cortese, Sophia Hawthorne, David Aston and Roy Snow, will open at Q Theatre on 29 October. Due to popular demand, the season has just been extended by 12 performances to 5 December.

Raymond Hawthorne (Fallen Angels, Le Sud, Oliver) is one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded theatre practitioners and his work, particularly with regular collaborator designer Tracy Grant Lord, is renowned for its style and elegance.

Shane Cortese (Chicago, Shortland Street, Nothing Trivial) stars as Nathan Detroit, a charming gambler seeking the perfect place to set up his illegal craps game. In an attempt to raise the $1,000 needed to bankroll the garage, Nathan bet Sky Masterson (Roy Snow) he won’t be able to woo the honourable Sister Sarah Brown (Rachel O’Connell). Detroit is soon at risk of losing it all as Masterson and Brown fall in love.

All the while, Detroit’s fiancée of 14 years, Miss Adelaide, played by Sophia Hawthorne (Romeo and Juliet, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Cabaret), just wants him to make an honest woman of her.

The Audi Season of Guys and Dolls is the ultimate Broadway classic, full of gambling, gangsters, scandal and all the sass of New York’s golden era. The production that the New York Times once called “the show that defines Broadway dazzle” has one of the musical theatre’s greatest ever scores including favourites like Luck Be a Lady, Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat and I’ve Never Been In Love Before.

The masterful lyrics were written by Joe Swerling and comedy legend Abe Burrows, based on two of Damon Runyon’s 1940s short stories about the characters of the New York underworld.

Considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy – Guys and Dolls premiered in 1950 and originally ran for 1200 performances. The original won five Tony Awards including Best New Musical and was subsequently made into the famous film starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.

The ATC production of this vintage masterpiece runs 29 October to 22 November.

Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street Auckland
Dates: 29 October to 28 November 2015
Tickets: or (09) 309 0390

Theatre , Musical ,

Nicely Nicely

Review by Tim George 03rd Nov 2015

Damon Runyon had a great ear for names. Sky Masterson, Nathan Detroit, Nicely Nicely Johnson… Part of the fun of reading his short stories, or watching Guys and Dolls, the Broadway show based on his works, are the monikers and the characters who sport them. Whether via page, screen or stage, Runyon-land, his imaginary version of Broadway filled with covert gambling, bent cops and hapless missionaries, is always worth the trip.

Guys and Dolls is the story of Nathan Detroit (Shane Cortese) and his pal Sky Masterson (Roy Snow), a couple of veteran gamblers – Nathan runs a floating illegal craps game which he is constantly trying to hide from both the irascible copper Brannigan (Stephen Lovatt) and his long suffering finance/doormat Adelaide (Sophia Hawthorne). Sky is the exact opposite – an archetypal lone wolf, with no broads and no fuzz on his tail. He’s free as a bird, until a bet with Nathan pitches him into a whirlwind courtship with Sarah Brown (Rachel O’Connell), an idealistic member of the local missionary. [More


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The cast give us our money’s worth

Review by James Wenley 03rd Nov 2015

Who was the chump who said that Guys and Dolls was the greatest golden-age musical? I could raise you dozens of shows. The 1950 work, by Loesser, Runyon and Swirling, which has long been a mainstay of community musical societies, is a rather tired property. For every Luck be a Lady you have two ponderous ballads. The film is worth a look, if only for Marlon Brando mumble-methoding his way through the lyrics, and to see if you can catch the disdain Frank Sinatra held for his co-star for getting the bigger role. Reviving the show now for gives it somewhat of a “gee, look at those misogynistic 1950’s values” curiosity, but I bet you couldn’t convince me of its enduring relevance to today. [More


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Pep missing in cheeky classic

Review by Janet McAllister 02nd Nov 2015

One looks for snap, bubble and froth in this classic wise-crackin’ musical comedy about gamblers and nightclub dancers. But this production, like a couple of other traditional-style Auckland Theatre Company shows this year, falls rather flat – and it’s not just the off-key singing. 

The 1950s show delivers a cheeky swag of ridiculous gender stereotypes (“marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow”) that beg to be delivered tongue-in-cheek. But director Raymond Hawthorne has eschewed customary interpretations and not even the flirtations are particularly sparky here. [More


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Bold, sassy and thoroughly entertaining

Review by Kathryn van Beek 01st Nov 2015

Guys and Dolls, which first premiered in 1950, is based on short stories written by Damon Runyon in the 1920s and 30s. Runyon’s New York heaves with gamblers, holy-rollers, law enforcers and ladies of the night, who all coexist on the city’s dirty streets.

The stage lights come up to reveal a smoky New York haze hanging over the luxe set of plush red carpet and sparkling red lettering. Throughout the evening the set transforms from a streetscape to a Christian mission HQ to an underground gambling lair, sometimes ingeniously connected by manholes and ladders, and always delighting with thoughtful period touches.

Costume and set designer Tracy Grant Lord’s eye for detail doesn’t stop there. The stage is filled with gorgeous cast members decked out in equally gorgeous clothes. The women mince about in glamorous swing coats, and the men prance in high-waisted trousers, suspenders and trilby hats. Even the sensible shoe-wearing Save-A-Soul Mission brothers and sisters look fetching in their tailored red uniforms.

We’re introduced to big-talking gambler Nathan Detroit (Shane Cortese) and his long-suffering fiancé Miss Adelaide (Sophia Hawthorne): a nightclub performer with a psychosomatic cold. Nathan’s in a spot of bother: he needs to find somewhere to hold his illegal gambling game but he doesn’t have the money to pay the venue. In order to raise some funds he bets fellow gambler Sky Masterton (Roy Snow) that he won’t be able to get Sister Sarah Brown (Rachel O’Connell) from the Mission to go on a date. Sky accepts the challenge, and so begins a chain of events that will change everyone’s lives for the worse – or the better – depending whether you think love’s a curse or a blessing.

Every aspect of the production is top notch, from the flawless live band (musical director, Robin Kelly) through to the charming choreography (movement director, Jeremy Birchall). Special mention must go to the two numbers from the Hot Box Cabaret, ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ and ‘Take Back Your Mink’, knowingly kitsch song and dance routines that provide hilarious insights into the cheesecake culture of the era. The doe-eyed Sophia Hawthorne shines during both songs, and also showcases her comedy chops on ‘Adelaide’s Lament’.

As pious Sister Sarah, Rachel O’Connell embodies a different kind of woman, and sings ‘I’ll Know’ and ‘If I Were A Bell’ with a delicious feminine soprano that calls to mind Julie Andrews and Doris Day. Rachel takes Sarah from uptight do-gooder, to devil-may-care drunk, to man-eater with ease.

Roy Snow announces his lady-killer intentions with the line “Do you take sinners here?” before going on to woo the audience with the sweet ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’. He takes a different tack with ‘Luck Be a Lady’, where he sings as though his soul’s on the line.

Shane Cortese hits the jackpot as loveable rogue Nathan, who tries to keep everyone happy most of the time but ends up in trouble all of the time. His dashing and dastardly qualities are particularly evident as he battles it out with his fiancé on the touching and funny ‘Sue Me’.

The other cast members bring everything from angelic harmonies to slapstick comedy to exotic dancing into the mix. Andrew Grainger, as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, leads the company in a knock-out version of ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat’, and the cheeky Hot Box Girls raise the temperature to boiling as they strip convention and shed their inhibitions.

When you see the name Raymond Hawthorne on a poster you know you’re in for a good show, and Guys and Dolls is another triumph from the acclaimed director. It’s bold, sassy and thoroughly entertaining. It’s the perfect night out for anyone who’s ever been in love – or thought about it.  


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