Guys & Dolls

Court One, Christchurch

25/11/2006 - 10/02/2007

Production Details

Music & lyrics by Frank Loesser / book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows / based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon

Directed & choreographed by Sandra Rasmussen

Musical direction by Richard Marrett
Set design by Tony Geddes

With its jaunty melodies, vivid characters and captivating dance routines, GUYS AND DOLLS is the greatest American musical ever. Set in the backstreets of a sultry 1940s New York, GUYS AND DOLLS became one of the longest running Broadway musicals of all time.

It all begins with a bet. Nathan Detroit challenges high-rolling gambler Sky Masterson to persuade Save-A-Soul Missionary Sarah Brown to accompany him on a trip to Cuba. While Sky works his charms on a wary Sarah, Nathan tries to stay outside the matrimonial clutches of his long-suffering fiancée, Miss Adelaide.

Audience favourites Ali Harper and Eilish Moran take the female leads with Adam Murphy (KISS ME KATE) and Jason Kennedy (SOUTH PACIFIC) making a welcome return to The Court to play the gambling men. With performers from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) amongst the top-rate ensemble, the stage is set for an explosion, guaranteed to entertain at every tantalising turn.

In a five-week rehearsal period Director / Choreographer Sandra Rasmussen and Musical Director Richard Marrett have sculpted the 21-strong cast to top the excellent standards set by previous musicals including OLIVER! and THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW.

The Court’s resident design gurus Tony Geddes and Pam Jones have created a kaleidoscopic world where even the band is swept up in the hustle and bustle of gangsters and gamblers, missionary dolls and scantily clad showgirls.

Says director and choreographer Sandra Rasmussen, “I love New York. I want to give the audience a little taste of the vibrancy of that city. I want to create real people – real gangsters who could and do kill, people a little down on their luck who want honest things like a home and marriage. We have assembled a fabulous cast to bring real magic to these colourful characters.

Theatre , Musical ,

2 hrs 25 mins, incl. interval

Nicely dizzy despite daft ending

Review by Lindsay Clark 18th Dec 2006

‘Dizzying’ is the word that springs to mind, and not just for the New York perspectives Tony Geddes delivers with his set design. We’ve heard it all before and hummed the melodies in many a circumstance, but there is still real delight in being an audience for this oldie but goodie of a 50’s Broadway show.

To be objective about it, the story lines lack that grit we seem to crave these days. Characters don’t have a chance to develop between set songs and probably it would not occur to us now that illegal crap gamesters encountering crusading Salvationists could  offer a brilliant scenario for romance.

Musical theatre is not always big on rationality however and for a glorious blend of colourful locations, lost causes and good old reliable stage characters the show is hard to beat. Programme notes describe it as having "equal portions of fantasy, fiction and fact".

It is also not easy to do well. Sandra Rasmussen’s inventive choreography combines with Richard Marrett’s enterprising musical team to keep the pulse high. The four piece band on their mobile trucks miss not a beat as they’re wheeled this way and that, part of the bustle and confusion of the city scene. Dizzying again.

Not easy either to find talent able to put a fresh stamp on such evergreens as the central couples and Damon Runyon’s engaging gamblers, although their names are an entertainment in themselves. Who can resist a second look at Miss Adelaide, Nathan Detroit, Nicely Nicely Johnson, Harry the Horse or Sky Masterson? In contrast, Sarah Brown leading the local mission has a name as plain as a prayer book cover, though Ali Harper plays her with a sparkling sweetness that is more Mills and Boon.

In fact the production is well served by all major roles. Outstanding are Eilish Moran as Miss Adelaide, she of the wonderful reflection on life and the ‘flu, and Adam Murphy as Sky Masterson, lean, dangerous and in fine voice. Michael Lee Porter gives a vital spark to Nicely Nicely.

Audiences are full of good cheer and good will at this time of year. Applause was long and verging on the euphoric the night I went, in spite of that daft ending to the story where the ‘goils’ agree to marry their respective guys as a tentative step to reforming them for good.


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