Review: Guys and Dolls

A positively Jewish spin


This cast re-boot of the most recent Guys and Dolls revival to hit the West End sees three of the main characters re-cast in the move from the Savoy to the Phoenix - and takes on a positively Jewish spin.

Nathan Detroit is played by Jewish-American actor Richard Kind (Spin City, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Very different from the most famous Nathan - played by Frank Sinatra - Kind's facial expressions add a new dimension to his character's disappointed surprise at the world.

Samantha Spiro is a perfect Miss Adelaide to Kind's Detroit. She is a red-haired, pint-sized mixture of charm and a knowing innocence (we can't imagine that she is as naive as she seems - and Spiro shows this off in Marry The Man Today, her declaration to ensnare Nathan in domestic bliss before moulding him into the perfect husband).

Kind and Spiro are both Jewish so really, in this version, Nathan and Adelaide are a nice Jewish couple. And they really do seem like a couple. When Adelaide's distress at Nathan's crap game leads to the song Sue Me, Kind genuinely appears horrified that he has upset his fiancée so much. This is one scene of many in which the comic - and superb - acting come to the fore. At one point, Kind and Spiro are in a silent-screaming stand-off with each other, both open-mouthed. It is funny and moving.

Spiro's Adelaide is less awkward than that played by her predecessor Sophie Thompson, more sure of herself and her relationship with Nathan. And her singing voice is a happy surprise - a rich, low sound in contrast to the high-pitched voice usually associated with Adelaide.

However, the stand-out actor of the night was Gavin Spokes, who plays Nathan's sidekick Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

His rendition of the traditional showstopper Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat really did stop the show, thanks to the addition of scat singing - along with the Salvation Army's General Cartwright, played by Lorna Gayle - taking this classic to a new level and injecting it with the personality of this particular revival.

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