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Guys and Dolls - Bridge Theatre Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson 
Tickets were gifted for an honest review

Effortlessly gliding into its second year is Nicholas Hytner’s phenomenal immersive production of Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre.

Timmika Ramsay (centre) as Miss Adelaide and the Hot Box Dancers. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

The immersive experience offers two choices, standing tickets in the stage area or seating all around. For this review I was in the standing area.

The buzz and the anticipation of this production begins as soon as you enter the auditorium. The lights, the sounds and the people make the streets of New York feel alive in London. The rumble of the subway trains, the selling of hats, hot dogs and pretzels and interactions with the company brings to life the world before the performance itself begins.

A glorious Overture begins proceedings and the orchestra under the musical direction of Tom Brady sound fantastic throughout. They add new pep and energy to these classic songs by Frank Loesser.

The show follows 4 main characters. You have Nathan Detroit (an oft hilarious Owain Arthur) and long time fiancé Miss Adelaide (a brilliant Timmika Ramsay). Detroit is a persistent gambler always looking to the next crab game to make more money whilst Adelaide is a cabaret performer at the Hot Box.

On the flip side you have Save-A-Soul missionary Sarah Brown (a divine Celinde Schoenmaker) who meets repenting sinner Sky Masterson (George Ioannides) after a bet is formed between Masterson and Detroit over the wooing of Brown and if he could take her to Havana, thus begins a sweeping romance between the duo. 

There’s delighting side characters too in Benny Southstreet (Ryan Pidgen) and Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Jonathan Andrew Hume), both match well with Owain Arthur’s Detroit. Cameron Johnson makes the most of his role as Big Jule to great effect. 

Jonathan Andrew Hume (centre) as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and the company. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

The wickedly comedic story is delivered with magnificent energy and sheer talent. The raising platforms and multitudes of props switch between scene and various location over the stage space.
Bunny Christie’s design cleverly uses the space and keeps the action moving at a swift pace. No beat or moment is missed. Paule Constable’s vibrant lighting and large neon signs compliment the production as does crystal clear sound design by Paul Arditti and the sound team, which is no easy job in the immersive surroundings.

Arlene Phillips and James Cousins’ choreography simply fizzes throughout. The movement is slick and polished, with every member of the ensemble fitting in perfectly with each other with clean precise movements.

There’s some real show stopping musical numbers and vocals that delight, including in the interval as the Hi-Hi Boys (Jonathan Andrew Hume, Cameron Johnson, TJ Lloyd and Ryan Pidgen) entertain the crowd with a few numbers from the show. Timmika Ramsay’s amazing vocal range is used to full potential throughout - ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ and the ensemble number ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ and the act two opening ‘Take Back Your Mink’ are the stand out for her character.

Ioannides delivers a silky smooth performance throughout and his rich vocals suit the iconic ‘Luck Be A Lady’ whilst Schoenmaker’s gorgeous soprano vocals match well, as does their general chemistry. The duets between the two are really lovely to hear. ‘I’ll Know’ and ‘I’ve Never Been In Love Before’ are wonderful moments of vocal romance.

The show stopping number comes in the second act’s ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat’ led by Jonathan Andrew Hume’s Nicely-Nicely Johnson. There are no more euphoric numbers than this around, for 5 or so minutes you a blasted into a world of pure heaven. The euphoria is such that the number gets two reprises that about blast off the roof of the venue such is the ovation. The energy and pizzazz given to this number is worth the ticket price alone!

You could argue the real stars of the production are the front of house and stage crew who manage and move the crowd to allow the platforms to be cleared. They do this with great confidence and professionalism. It’s no easy job to herd a mass crowd whilst a performance is happening all around them.

Safely in the hands of a sizzling hot new company with a few fresh tweaks here and there this production is faultless. You are completely swept along for the ride, with the night ending with an epic dance floor where you can throw some moves with the cast. It rounds off what is a truly exhilarating experience. 


Guys and Dolls continues at The Bridge Theatre. Tickets are available from

George Ioannides as Sky Masterson and Celinde Schoenmaker as Sarah Brown. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

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