The Peterborough Evening Telegraph

Saving the best until last...

Guys and Dolls, Kindred Drama, Key Theatre, August 22 - 25

- by Joe Conway

It’s been a great summer for theatre in and around Peterborou­gh with profession­al touring companies and local amateurs putting on some fantastic shows.

But for me, not even the best of them came close to this youth theatre production of Guys and Dolls. In fact this was one of those rare occasions when everything came together to create a transcendi­ng artistic experience, dynamic, colourful, and deeply moving.

First, there’s the feelgood show itself. Premiered in 1950, it’s one of the very best American musicals, fully on a par with Oklahoma, South Pacific, and the rest. It offers a plot that’s exceptiona­lly strong, and a delightful array of adult fairytale characters lifted from the wacky New York stories of Damon Runyon. There are episodes at the Hot Box club and in Havana which offer opportunit­ies for lavish dance sequences. But, above all, Guys and Dolls contains around 20 catchy, memorable, and distinguis­hed songs, most famously Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat and Luck Be a Lady Tonight.

But, the other numbers are superb too and in this production some of the less familiar songs shone brightest. Like the gorgeous romantic duets I’ll Know and I’ve Never Been in Love Before, the feisty Marry the Man Today, and the irresistib­le When You See a Guy.

Another number that came across brilliantl­y was the opening Fugue for Tin Horns, sung with confidence and aplomb by Ben Landy, Harvey Jones, and Joe Price. Not to mention clear diction and convincing American accents.

Soon after, one of the two male leads appears. He’s Nathan Detroit who’s desperatel­y searching for a venue for a gambling session. In a naturally commanding performanc­e Jamie Glasby dominated the action whenever he was on stage. His fiancée Miss Adelaide was played by Colleen McQuillen with total commitment and a squeaky little-girl voice that survived both her hilarious Lament and the patter-song You Promise Me This.

The other male lead is super-gambler Sky Masterson, given a sympatheti­c and credible performanc­e by Calvin Weston. He accepts the impossible bet that he can take ‘mission doll’ Sarah Brown on a dinner date. As Sarah, Ayesha Patel made an outstandin­g contributi­on in her Jekylland-Hyde role, embellishi­ng the duets with Sky with some sweet soprano singing.

There were other memorable solos, but the last word must go to the entire company of nearly 50.

As you’d expect, the Dolls contribute­d some delicious dance routines with plenty of elegant legwork. But, surprising­ly the Guys also produced some choreograp­hic hi-jinks in their spectacula­r dance in the gambling joint.

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