The show is fun, entertaining and imaginatively presented. And it’s true to the ATC’s philosophy.
The 2019-founded company, which produces independent theatre in Melbourne, focuses on working with women, ethnically diverse artists, people with disability, trans and non-binary people, seniors, and other members of historically or culturally marginalised communities who are not well represented on stage.
“Because of the type of work we produce (new work that is written by and features marginalised voices), most have been emerging artists or people who haven’t yet been afforded mainstream performance opportunities,” explained ATC artistic director Brandon Pape.
“Our mission is also to show people things they never thought to look for. We’ve long wanted to present a classic musical in a way that embraces the bodies and themes that make up our community, both the artistic community of Antipodes and the wider community of Australia in 2023.
“Guys and Dolls is a beloved golden age musical that hasn’t been performed in Melbourne in nearly 10 years. We quickly realised upon delving into the text that there was an opportunity to tell this story in a new and exciting way – without changing a word – and to give opportunities to actors who may not traditionally have had access to this story or style of performance.”
Set in New York and based on Damon Runyon’s short stories, Guys and Dolls tells of con-man Nathan Detroit’s (Shannon Foley) efforts to find a new home for his illegal, and notorious, crap game after the police close his previous venue. After finding the venue he then has to raise the money to pay for it.
Enter Sky Masterson (Javon King), a high-rolling gambler willing to take on any honest bet with a high enough reward attached. Nathan bets Sky that he can’t take the “doll” of Nathan’s choosing on a date to Havana, Cuba. When Sky agrees to the bet, Nathan chooses evangelist Sergeant Sarah Brown (Maddison Coleman), head of Broadway’s Save-a-Soul Mission. Sky’s efforts to woo Sarah are so successful they fall in love.
At the same time Nathan’s fiancée Miss Adelaide (Willow Sizer), a nightclub singer, wants to end their 14-year engagement by finally getting married. She also wants him to give up gambling.
The performance of cast members is a highlight of the production. Supported by an on-stage seven-piece band, the enthusiasm and comic timing of the show’s 12 actors presenting often very humorous lines is spot on.
Their singing and dancing are equally as impressive with Coleman and Sizer giving stand out vocal performances.
The show’s five supporting dancers also do an excellent job in presenting numerous numbers in what must be challenging circumstances given the size of the stage at Chapel off Chapel.
Their dancing helps bring alive the show’s sets which include a New York prohibition-era nightclub of the 1920s and a Havana dance club and adds to the high energy feel of ATC’s presentation of this much-loved musical comedy.
Guys and Dolls is playing at Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street Prahran until August 19. Visit the Antipodes Theatre Company’s website for more information and tickets.
*Photo credit: 3 Fates Media
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Guys and Dolls as a guest of the production company.
- lie shows, Melbourne, reviews
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