Friday, 14 December 2018

Team behind ‘Guys and Dolls’ are on a mission

Team behind ‘Guys and Dolls’ are on a mission

THE team behind last year’s Mill at Sonning hit My Fair Lady are bringing a dash of Broadway magic with them this winter.

Guys and Dolls opens at the Sonning Eye venue next Friday (November 23) — and for anyone who had trouble getting tickets last year there is some good news to report.

A Mill at Sonning spokesman said: “Many people were disappointed last year at failing to get seats for My Fair Lady. This year the sales of Guys and Dolls have already surpassed last Christmas, so the exciting news is that we have extended the run by another four weeks until February 23.

“Not only that but we are also experimenting with eight extra Thursday matinées during the run — without lunch, just the show!

“Be sure to book early for all performances so that you don’t miss this fabulous show.”

Just how fabulous is written into Broadway theatre history. Based on two short stories by Damon Runyon, the musical premiered in November 1950, ran for 1,200 performances and won the Tony Award for best musical.

With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, the musical has since enjoyed a series of Broadway and West End revivals, while the award-winning 1955 film adaptation starred Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra.

A timeless tale of petty crooks, nightclub singers and strait-laced missionaries, Guys and Dolls takes us into the world of Sky Masterson, the cool doyen of gamblers.

His friend, the not quite down-and-out Nathan Detroit, makes a bet with him that he can’t get the pious and beautiful mission-doll Sarah Brown to go on a date with him to disreputable Havana.

The dice are rolled as these colourful characters pursue love and luck from the heart of Times Square to the sizzling clubs of Cuba. But will Lady Luck be on their side?

The Mill at Sonning spokesman added: “Guys and Dolls has it all — glamour, fun, romance, dazzling dance numbers, stunning costumes and some of the greatest show tunes ever, including Luck Be a Lady, Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat, I’ve Never Been in Love Before and Take Back Your Mink.

“The talented team behind My Fair Lady, director-choreographer Joseph Pitcher and musical arranger Charlie Ingles, will work their magic once again to make this sensational show fit on to our intimate stage.”

A stage and film actor in his own right, director Joseph Pitcher’s ambitions for the production could be described as “Olympian” — which is not so surprising when you consider that his CV includes working as part of the movement team on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“I think it’s so important in any creative work not to become too complacent,” he says. “It’s easy to stick within your comfort zone and become stagnant. I aim to push my boundaries a little further with each job I do. Working on the Olympics was unlike anything I’d done before or since, in that the production was immense! But I learned a lot about vision and telling stories on an epic scale.”

With that in mind, what can audiences look forward to with Guys and Dolls this winter? “We’re hoping to bring a little bit of Broadway to Sonning! An exciting re-imagining of a classic musical, vibrant characterisations by West End performers and beautifully orchestrated arrangements of some wonderful songs.”

The Mill is famous for its semicircular stage and auditorium, but how does Pitcher find it to work with compared with a traditional proscenium arch theatre? “Each performance space presents different challenges, but along with those challenges come opportunities. I wouldn’t say I really have a preference. Working in the semi-round is great in terms of how immersed the audience are in the action but you have to have a constant eye on making sure everyone feels involved.”

• Tickets for Guys and Dolls start at £40 for the 2.15pm Thursday matinées without lunch. For details of all performances and to book, call the box office on 0118 969 8000 or visit www.millatsonning.com

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