Church Hill Theatre
February 9th – 13th
Stagecraft: Libretto: Performance:
I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, checking out the mid-year productions of the Edinburgh student companies, & I dare say I did save the best til last. Frank Loesser’s Guys & Dolls (1950) was a daring choice by the Edinburgh Footlights, a host of American accents waiting to be picked apart by the non-pronunciationists, but they availed themselves of this problem with panache – & suspended our belief for two hours of wonderful Musical Theatre. They just get better & better, these student-run Footlights, who put on their first production back in 1989… this time round, according to the society’s president, Sarah Couper, her ‘incredible Cast & Crew,’ had a ‘blast throughout the creative process,‘ a joyful energy which seeped out of every pore of the performers.
The musical is set in the seedy ‘devil’s-own-streets’ underbelly of Prohibition-Era New York, a world of gamblers, drink & other such vices, into which a team of sacred sisters have been sent to save with a series of late-night prayer meetings. One of these, Sister Sarah (played by Ellie Millar) is our leading lady, whose sweet voice melted like ambrosia on the ears. Beside her stood, danced & quipped the ubersmooth Sky Masterson (Oliver Barker), & together they catalysed the best moment of the night, when Sister Sarah found herself drunk & letting loose in Cuba. Special praise must also go to flame-haired Mae Hearon’s ‘Miss Adelaide,’ whose accent, dancing, singing &, well, just about everything, was perfect; while Lila Pitcher’s dice-rolling, threat-tossing ‘Big Julie’ was a brilliant & hugely hilarious part.
Musically & choreographically, this was a technically flawless affair, while the humour was delivered with deadly timing – the crowd loved it. The set could have been given a bit more attention, but this was made up by some excellent costume-work. As for the music itself, its not the catchiest collection of songs, but the two most famous numbers, ‘Luck Be a Lady‘ & ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’ were given the full monty with some great routines, the latter of which I’m still humming as I write. A chic, sleek production, this one, & I’m looking forward to next year’s offering from the Footlights already.
Reviewer Damo Bullen