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A History of Guys and Dolls

Author: Jack Bull

Guys and Dolls is currently playing at the Savoy Theatre before continuing on tour until July 2016. This production opened at Chichester Festival Theatre to critical acclaim, stars Sophie Thompson, David Haigh, Siubhan Harrison and Jamie Parker, and features a cast and orchestra of over 40, along with a stellar creative team including ballet legend Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright as the choreographers..
 
So now to mark the shows return to the UK, let's take a look back at how it's grown over its 65 year history to become such an iconic piece of musical theatre...




Production shot from the current production of Guys and Dolls at The Savoy Theatre  - Photography: Paul Coltas


Toe-Tapping Tunes

The show features a score full of recognizable songs, including Adelaide's Lament, Luck Be a Lady, and the classic Broadway 11 o'clock number Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat. Between the songs If I Were a Bell and I've Never Been in Love Before, there have been recordings made by Bing Crosby, Petula Clark, Dinah Washington, Shirley Bassey, Doris Day and Barbara Streisand to name just a few!

Broadway Triumph

When the show originally opened at the 46 Street Theatre, New York, it was hailed by critics as "a perfect musical comedy"!(Daily News, New York). It opened on Broadway in 1950 and ran for an amazing 1,200 performances. The West End premiere was in 1953 at the Coliseum and in both productions, the cast featured Vivian Blaine and Sam Levene.

Did you know that the role of Miss Adelaide was written specifically for Vivian Blaine? The creative team wanted her in the show, but felt she wasn't right for the roles already written!




Frank Sinatra / Vivian Blaine - Source: Wikimedia


Casting Clash

The film was released in 1955, but created casting chaos! Who should be cast as Sky? Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra were both interested, but it was Marlon Brando who eventually landed the part, causing a lot of tension on set (bitter actors by the sounds of it!). To add to the already rocky start, Marilyn Monroe was keen to play Miss Adelaide, but the film’s director decided to cast Vivian Blaine from the original production. Well, the part was literally written for her after all!

Revolutionary Revival

In 1982, Richard Eyre staged a major revival of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre. The result was one of the most successful productions of the show to date, becoming an overnight phenomenon that went on to tour and got a West End run at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Did you know the National Theatre had planned to stage a revival in 1971 starring Laurence Olivier? Due to poor health, rehearsals had to stop and the show was never performed!




Production shot from the current production of Guys and Dolls at The Savoy Theatre  - Photography: Paul Coltas


The original National Theatre cast starred Bob Hoskins and Julia McKenzie, winning 5 Olivier Awards. In 1983, Imelda Staunton (most recently seen at the Savoy Theatre in Gypsy), replaced Julia McKenzie as Miss Adelaide. She also went on to play the same role when the production was revived in 1996.

International Acclaim

In 1992, a highly successful Broadway revival opened, starring Nathan Lane and Peter Gallagher. This production was at the Martin Beck Theatre, running for almost three years and 1,143 performances.



Siubhan Harrison, Jamie Parker, David Haig and Sophie Thompson, the current cast of Guys and Dolls - Photography: Matt Crockett/Dewynters


Michael Grandage
directed a new revival in 2005 at the Piccadilly Theatre starring Ewan McGregor, Jenna Russell and Douglas Hodge, and during the run became the most star-studded show in town at the time. This production was also remounted 3 years later in Melbourne, Australia before transferring to Sydney with great success.

Toe-Tapping Tunes

The show features a score full of recognizable songs, including Adelaide’s Lament, Luck Be a Lady, and the classic Broadway 11 o’clock number Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat. Between the songs If I Were a Bell and I’ve Never Been in Love Before, there have been recordings made by Bing Crosby, Petula Clark, Dinah Washington, Shirley Bassey, Doris Day and Barbara Streisand to name just a few!



Production shot from the current production of Guys and Dolls at The Savoy Theatre  - Photography: Paul Coltas


Catch It While You Can!

So now this award winning (30 major international awards, in fact!) has returned. You can catch it at the Savoy Theatre until March, or after that on tour until July – you’d be crazy to miss it!


You can find more show details and book here