Daily Mail

Sit down? Not with this rocking revival!

- Patrick Marmion

DANIEL Mays is the go-to Cockney geezer du jour. Fittingly though, the former EastEnders and Line Of Duty star has also long had the restless air of a man eager to get back to Ladbrokes and put a monkey on the 3.20 at Kempton.

All that’s what makes Mays a perfect fit for this glorious new revival of the Frank Loesser musical about gangsters and illegal gamblers or ‘crapshoote­rs’ in 1930s New York.

And yet, the real star of Nicholas Hytner’s swaggering revival of the 1950 musical is Bunny Christie’s staging. She turns the Bridge Theatre’s bear-pit into Broadway’s Times Square, with the NYPD marshallin­g the standing audience around rising and falling sections of hydraulic floor.

There are also tiers of seating looking down on the teeming stage with a pretzel cart, newspaper machines and a pop-up barber, plus Walk/Don’t Walk traffic lights and neon signs overhead. But the standing tickets are where it’s at and I’ve seldom seen an audience so gleefully immersed.

That’s hardly surprising thanks to Mays’ Nathan Detroit, a feckless fixer of illegal ‘crapshoots’ who’s like David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst rolled into one – fitted here with a ‘Noo Yoik’ accent. Like the Only Fools And Horses brothers he flies by the seat of his pants, squaring his dodgy dealings and his 14-year engagement to dippy show girl Adelaide.

Adored as Mays is, the acting plaudits belong to newcomers Andrew Richardson and Celinde Schoenmake­r as legendary gambler Sky Masterson and the Salvation Army missionary girl Sarah Brown he tricks into going to Cuba.

Richardson is slick and cute enough in his natty linen suit, but he’s made cuter still by the hint of a lisp and a singing voice with a touch of Sinatra.

In one of Hytner’s cheeky interventi­ons, Schoenmake­r’s prim Sarah Brown is transfigur­ed by a couple of Bacardis, starting a brawl in Havana when she finds Sky dirty-dancing with a Freddie Mercury lookalike. And she has a big fruity warble to match her new-found appetite.

Alongside her, Marisha Wallace is lustily lunged as show girl Miss Adelaide. Although she’s not the usual squeaky bimbo, she doesn’t deny us that dipsiness in her striptease number Take Back Your Mink at the ‘Hot Box’ cabaret bar.

Choreograp­hy by Strictly’s Arlene Phillips and James Cousins throws in a Latin street party before the interval, adding carnival to Adelaide’s cabaret – and the entertainm­ent continues even in the interval with boogie-woogie singing and tap dancing on stage.

Alongside an unbeatable roster of songs including the title number, the roof raiser remains Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat, when the gamblers pile into the Salvation Army mission hall. They perform their 20- strong, three- encore shindig in a space no bigger than a New York paddy wagon.

Procure tickets by fair means or foul: it’s a racing cert.

 ?? ?? Raising the roof: Cedric Neal centre stage as Nicely-Nicely Johnson
Raising the roof: Cedric Neal centre stage as Nicely-Nicely Johnson
 ?? ?? Noo Yoiker: Daniel Mays as Nathan Detroit
Noo Yoiker: Daniel Mays as Nathan Detroit
 ?? ??

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