Music and lyrics Frank Loesser, book Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Produced by Chichester Festival Theatre
Palace Theatre, Manchester
10th-21st November 2015
This brief review originally appeared as a comment here.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable night out. The first half is long and the ‘Runyonland’ gamblers’ dialect and old-fashioned humour take a while to get the audience engaged, but once it gathers steam, the musical numbers are witty and moving by turns, and the performances are strong from all the main cast. In particular, Jamie Parker as Sky Masterson seems inspired, but doesn’t allow himself to be overshadowed, by Marlon Brando’s turn in the 1955 film. He and Siubhan Harrison give us a rounded portrayal of their romance plotline.
The orchestration is brass-heavy, giving everything a swingy, big band feel; yet it still manages to draw out a lot of tenderness from numbers such as I’ve Never Been in Love Before and More I Cannot Wish You, despite the lack of strings. The choreography is often joyous – in the Cuban nightclub scene, for instance, or the triumphant Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat. And although the set isn’t particularly inspiring, it’s highly appropriate to deck the stage out in ads for a show which, set in the early days of the ad men, name-drops brands like Ovaltine and Reader’s Digest.