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Guys and Dolls, Royal Exchange

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
Im a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
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Gambling Tales of New York
Harlem is the setting for the Christmas show at Manchester's Royal Exchange, as the theatre asks punters to take a gamble on a reimagined version of a classic musical.

Guys And Dolls, Talawa Theatre Company, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Guys And Dolls was made into a film in 1955, starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.

In The Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company co-production, the action stays in NY but moves from Broadway to Harlem, 1939. The musical premiered on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre (now Richard Rodgers Theatre) on November 24, 1950. It was directed by George S. Kaufman.

The Royal Exchange production will be directed by Michael Buffong, the artistic director of Talawa Theatre Company. Choreography is by Kenrick 'H20' Sandy. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of Boy Blue Entertainment, associate artists of the Barbican. Boy Blue Entertainment's most recent work, Blak Whyte Gray, was nominated for an Olivier Award for best new dance production.

Michael Buffong is already a familiar face at the Royal Exchange. He directed King Lear - which starred Don Warrington, and was filmed for BBC4. He also directed Arthur Miller's All My Sons and A Raisin in the Sun - a play that debuted on Broadway in 1959, with its title taken from the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes.

Fearon Ray stars as Nathan Detroit - Frank Sinatra's role in the 1955 film. The actor already has form at the Royal Exchange - having appeared in A Raisin in the Sun.

Michael Buffong said: "Pre-war Harlem was all about the hustle. The creativity of that era was born from a unique collision of talent and circumstance as people escaped the agricultural and oppressive south via the 'underground railroad' into the highly urbanised and industrialised north."

Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson settle every dispute with a roll of the dice. The plot takes a potentially romantic turn when Nathan takes what he thinks is a can't-lose bet. He challenges Sky to take a doll (a woman) of Nathan's choice to dinner in Havana, Cuba. Sky agrees and Nathan picks out Sergeant Sarah Brown, from the Save-a-Soul Mission.

Sky tells Sarah he will bring the mission "one dozen genuine sinners" if she will be his Havana date.

Music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser, whose other famous songs include Baby, It's Cold Outside and On a Slow Boat to China.

Guys and Dolls is based on short stories by Damon Runyon (1880 1946), including The Idylls of Sarah Brown , Blood Pressure and Pick the Winner.

Theatres are full of hit-and-miss' jukebox musicals', so it's well worth taking a chance on a production where the songs were originally written for the music and to progress the plot - not hit songs which are later fitted around a story.

Those classics include Luck be a Lady, I've Never Been in Love Before, If I Were a Bell and Sit Down you're Rocking the Boat.

Royal Exchange Manchester, Guys and Dolls, Musical
Guys and Dolls Film Poster, 1955
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Why? Take a Gamble on Guys and Dolls
When: 2nd December 2017 - 27 January 2018
Phone: 0161 833 9833
Where: Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Cost: From 10
Your Comment
I definitely want to see this!
by Jay Johnson (score: 3|1368) 1465 days ago
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