Reviews are coming in for Nicholas Hytner’s new immersive production of Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre in London.
London theatre critics have reviewed the show in the last few days – with the official press performance yesterday night, 14 March 2023.
The Bridge Theatre’s immersive production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, also directed by the venue’s artistic director Nicholas Hytner, was a huge hit for the theatre – is Guys & Dolls the same smash?
Audience members can choose to stand in amongst the action of the show, or sit close by, with both types of tickets now available to buy here.
The show features a top-line cast including Andrew Richardson (A Call to Spy, The Last O.G) as Sky Masterson, Daniel Mays as Nathan Detroit, Marisha Wallace (Oklahoma!, Waitress, Dreamgirls) as Miss Adelaide, Celinde Schoenmaker (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera) as Sarah Brown, Cedric Neal (Motown The Musical, Back to the Future) as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
This legendary Broadway musical boasts music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
Alongside Hytner, the show’s creators include set design by Bunny Christie, choreography by Arlene Phillips, costumes by Deborah Andrews and Bunny Christie, associate direction and choreography by James Cousins, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Arditti, musical direction and arrangements by Tom Brady, orchestrations by Charlie Rosen and casting by Charlotte Sutton.
Guys & Dolls is playing at the Bridge Theatre until 2 September 2023.
Read reviews from press including the Evening Standard, Telegraph, Times, Variety, and Guardian. More reviews to follow.
Book Guys & Dolls tickets at the Bridge Theatre in London
Guys & Dolls reviews
"Sit down? Not with this rocking revival!"
"Daniel Mays is the go-to Cockney geezer du jour... All that’s what makes Mays a perfect fit for this glorious new revival of the Frank Loesser musical about gangsters and illegal gamblers or ‘crapshooters’ in 1930s New York."
"And yet, the real star of Nicholas Hytner’s swaggering revival of the 1950 musical is Bunny Christie’s staging. She turns the Bridge Theatre’s bear-pit into Broadway’s Times Square, with the NYPD marshalling the standing audience around rising and falling sections of hydraulic floor."
"Adored as Mays is, the acting plaudits belong to newcomers Andrew Richardson and Celinde Schoenmaker as legendary gambler Sky Masterson and the Salvation Army missionary girl Sarah Brown he tricks into going to Cuba."
"Procure tickets by fair means or foul: it’s a racing cert."
"Nicholas Hytner’s gamble pays off"
"This immersive production of the New York musical has a bold design, superb singing and chemistry between its stars"
"Nicholas Hytner’s production is a feat of innovative staging. The Bridge’s auditorium has been radically rearranged for a promenading audience, with Bunny Christie’s mobile stage continually remaking itself..."
"There is the option for some audience members to watch from an outer tier of the auditorium and, having chosen to sit, I felt regretfully distant from the immersive elements. It was clear that the promenading audience was experiencing the show differently."
"Marisha Wallace, sensational as always"
"The performances are strong – especially the singing voices – even if there are few points of emotional connection."
"Maybe because of the ever-reconstructing set, the drama itself never quite sweeps us in, although there is a sweet dynamic between Richardson and Schoenmaker, as well as good comic chemistry between Wallace and Mays."
"An Explosively Thrilling Production of a Masterpiece in London"
"Since Nicholas Hytner, former artistic director of the National Theatre, is one of the finest, most detailed Shakespeare directors in the land, you could be forgiven for forgetting that he really knows how to put on a show — and then some... His immersive, explosively joyous “Guys and Dolls” is a solid-gold knockout."
"Presenting the show in-the-round across designer Bunny Christie’s five, cunningly versatile, interconnected hydraulic platforms, he then wraps the standing crowd around the stages that rise and fall beneath the gorgeous glow of huge neon advertising display signs of 1930s Times Square. From the get-go, there’s such a buzz in the auditorium that the audience is even dancing during the overture, thanks to the pizzazz and punch of Tom Brady’s wonderfully crisp, brass-and-sax-drenched 14-piece band."
"... Hytner has banished celebrity casting in favor of a marvelously diverse ensemble of triple-threat talent. That extends right through from the juicy small roles up to tall U.S. screen actor Andrew Richardson making his professional stage debut as a deliciously easeful Sky Masterson, singing and dancing as if to the manner born."
"American-born Wallace...ignites her every second on stage."
"If a similar space could be found to house the unique physical production, its future could be huge."
"Marisha Wallace is a standout in this blissful and exhilarating revival"
"This near-flawless revival boasts excellent leads, astonishing choreography and gorgeous costumes"
"Broadway’s best-ever musical, Frank Loesser’s witty tale of New York wastrels tamed by women too good for them, gets a near-flawless revival in this immersive production by Nicholas Hytner. The casting of the four leads is spot-on, with Marisha Wallace an absolute standout for her powerhouse vocals and perfect comic timing as Miss Adelaide..."
"Although you can buy a seat, I’d strongly advise a promenade ticket that puts you up against the action"
"The choreography, by Arlene Phillips and James Cousins, in these tight and elevated spaces, is astonishing. Miss Adelaide’s Hot Box dancers are the most pneumatic I’ve ever seen, and the fiesta-turned-fight that envelops Sky and Sarah on a Havana dance floor is a piece of tightly orchestrated chaos."
"Hytner and his cast pay as much attention to the drily comic script by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows as they do to Loesser’s score and lyrics... I can’t stress enough the meticulousness and care that has gone into every aspect of this show. Blissful and exhilarating."
"Sheer theatrical bliss"
"Here’s a dream production that dares you to imagine that you’re in the coolest nightspot in the Manhattan of yesteryear. It’s crowded and full of shady characters. And it’s sheer bliss. Frank Loesser’s realm of hustlers and gamblers comes gloriously to life in an immersive reworking of one of Broadway’s greatest shows."
"It certainly seems fun to be in the thick of it, although those hardy souls sometimes found themselves being shunted back and forth like the teens in one of Janet Street-Porter’s “yoof” TV programmes.... Not that Marisha Wallace — a supremely engaging and sexy Adelaide — could be upstaged by anything short of an earthquake."
"Arlene Phillips’s choreography is a delight, particularly on the salsa sequences during the interlude in Havana."
"On a cold, wet night, we had found our little corner of heaven."
"A theatrical extravaganza that explodes every which way"
"Nick Hytner's new promenade staging of this much-loved classic fizzes with energy and boasts a quartet of perfect leads"
"Guys and Dolls has been around the block plenty of times but never seems to have shown its face in the dolled-up guise applied here by Nick Hytner."
"Even when seated, you’re gazing upon an extravaganza that explodes every which way."
"The bystanders’ presence sharpens the comedy – they’re consulted over racing tips and are exhorted to sing along when fretful crap-game fixer Nathan Detroit get ambushed into a betrothal party for his strung-along sweetheart Miss Adelaide. The spectators also heat up the sensuality of the Hot Box number Take Back Your Mink, items of attire flung their way – or create a hushed intensity as Sarah Brown’s grandfather tenderly croons to her."
"The choreography (Arlene Phillips and James Cousins) is fast and fluid, not too fancy, using spatial constriction to evoke a joyous hustle and bustle..."
"Making his professional stage debut aged 27, and an instant star, Andrew Richardson is a swoon-making sensation as Sky"
"There’s a timely moral in there about giving puritanical reproval a wide berth and letting warmth and chemistry hold sway – and, in terms of theatreland emerging from the doldrums, Hytner’s impeccable feelgood escapism saves the day."
"Reinforces the thrill of live theatre like nothing else"
"The initial booking period for Nicholas Hytner’s exuberant Guys and Dolls is six months – but it could just as easily run forever"
"That canny showman Nicholas Hytner, directing what will undoubtedly prove to his biggest hit since leaving the National Theatre, has chosen to harness the full extent of the Bridge’s flexible auditorium... This whole production reinforces like nothing else the immediacy and thrill of live theatre, of being, as the musical Hamilton so emphatically puts it, “in the room where it happens”."
"Occasionally this rearrangement of people and furniture can prove distracting, especially for those watching from conventional seats, but not often. Overwhelmingly it’s an innovative and attractive idea, but the major drawback is that this staging doesn’t allow much space for Arlene Phillips’s choreography to let rip."
"That uproariously ebullient number “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” doesn’t stop the show in quite the way it both can and should, and the second half fades a little in comparison to the all-out energy of the lengthy first. Yet these are tiny quibbles about an exuberant and joyous production."
"Nicholas Hytner and Bunny Christie’s game-changing immersive production of the classic musical is simply astonishing"
"Nicolas Hytner’s Bridge production is a staggering achievement, a more or less flawless take on traditional terms that’s turned into something transcendent by the staging, from Hytner and designer Bunny Christie."
"Hytner and Christie’s version of Frank Loesser’s 1950 classic is not a difficult or challenging one. Instead, it uses a stunningly choreographed and - crucially - incredibly fun series of rising and falling platforms to stage the show right in the middle of a standing audience that’s deftly maneuvered around by ushers dressed as NYC cops"
"To be clear, it’s the same general idea as the two Shakespeare plays, but much bolder, busier and more dynamic, with an inevitable frisson gained from the proximity to world-class singing and dancing."
"US performer Wallace is absolutely sensational: she’s got the lung power and nuance to totally own standards like ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ and ‘Sue Me’. But more to the point, she’s got the acting chops to really do something with the character."
"I appreciate I’ve been a bit giddy here, and yes, I have in fact seen other shows with interactive sets before. But what Hytner and Christie have done so brilliantly is seamlessly integrate this stuff into mainstream musical entertainment."
"A Mobile Audience for a Moving ‘Guys and Dolls’"
"Nicholas Hytner’s heartbreaking ambulatory staging, at the Bridge Theater in London, finds new depths in the classic Broadway musical."
"The difference this time, in Nicholas Hytner’s joyous new production, which opened Tuesday at the Bridge Theater, is that the show courses with a degree of feeling not always found in this story of two male “no-goodniks” and the women who love them. That warmth transforms Frank Loesser’s 1950 classic into something as touching as it is tuneful: You leave humming, and with a full heart."
"Yet proximity to the cast would mean nothing if the actors didn’t deliver. And it’s here that Hytner really scores, fielding a company of players — including several newcomers to musical theater — that mines the twin love affairs on view for all their emotional heft. They sing splendidly, and break your heart, too."
"The score, orchestrated by Charlie Rosen, sounds great as performed by a 14-piece swing band perched above the action, lending a party feel to the proceedings, in which the audience joins a conga line with the cast (on the night I attended, at least)."
"The ensemble numbers come roaring to life, with Cedric Neal’s sweet-faced Nicely-Nicely Johnson leading “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” to three encores."
"There’s nothing I could wish more for theatergoers than to experience this “Guys and Dolls” for themselves."
"When it cuts loose, it triumphs"
"Promenade staging of the classic musical shows audiences a swaggering, swell time"
"The immersive approach may feel like a novelty when applied to this best-loved of shows, with its fabulously hummable Frank Loesser score. Yet in truth, the effect is less than transformative... But for those of us who choose to promenade (seated tickets are also available), the proximity to the action, and to each other, creates a buoyant party atmosphere. And it facilitates some intimate moments that, among the feel-good ebullience, deliver a startling emotional kick."
"Unlike Daniel Fish’s extraordinary Oklahoma!, currently in the West End, this is no radical reinvention: take Hytner’s production out of its walkabout setting, and it would be pretty trad. But that’s not to say it isn’t done with panache."
"Andrew Richardson’s smoothie Sky Masterson, meanwhile, has a debonair yet hard-edged virility, which makes it all the sweeter when his awakening passion for Celinde Schoenmaker’s crystalline-voiced Salvation Army sergeant Sarah Brown turns him into a helpless, gooey-eyed puppy. Their date in Havana is one of the few occasions when Arlene Phillips’ choreography springs some surprises."
"And when the show cuts loose on those numbers we all know so well, it triumphs, with a crack band in the balcony burnishing Loesser’s score to a glorious golden gleam."
"Five stars for a high-energy, finger-snapping Guys & Dolls"
"... Nicholas Hytner’s sensational revival of Guys & Dolls. This is one to bet your shirt on: a superb production, hot as mustard, sweet as pie."
"Despite this fiendish technical jigsaw, Hytner and his team tell the story with neon crackle, finger-snapping pace and more sauce than Mindy’s Diner."
"The staging embraces the musical’s stadium status — who doesn’t want to sway along to those legendary numbers? — and the choreography, by Arlene Phillips and James Cousins, is a miracle of high energy in compact spaces (rock the boat too much here and you’ll wind up pitching into the sea of spectators). But what’s wonderful about Hytner’s production is that, amid all the pizzazz, the affectionate humanity and tenderness of the piece come out."
"Beautifully pitched central performances tease out the tensions between the characters’ public profiles and private fears."
"Unlike Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma!, this is not a revisionist staging: it won’t rock the boat. But boy, it’s a winner."
"You’ll struggle to find a classier revival"
"Nicholas Hytner’s immersive production sends audiences into the seedy, neon-lit underbelly of Depression-era New York"
"In Nicholas Hytner’s production of Guys and Dolls, nothing stays still for long: not the cast, not the audience, not even the stage."
"Watching the swirling ensemble, you’ll find it hard to know where to look. But our leads confidently steer the show. Mays is slightly lacking in energy when he arrives on stage, but he swiftly picks up pace. Wallace, meanwhile, who recently picked up an Olivier nomination for her role in Oklahoma!, continues to dominate every musical she’s in. She doesn’t overdo this easy-to-overdo role, making the often twee “A Bushel and a Peck” genuinely sexy."
"In these big, powerful group songs, the ensemble comes together. There are no distractions, and the audience regains any lost focus. We’re reminded why we’re here: to see musical theatre titans at the top of their game, singing their hearts out. As classy revivals of major musicals go, you’ll struggle to find better."
"The audience is swept along with the action in Nicholas Hytner’s thrillingly immersive new Guys and Dolls"
"Not merely rocking the boat. Making it fly. Tickets for Nicholas Hytner’s production of Guys & Dolls will be the most sought after of the season."
"The musical numbers are nonstop sumptuous – in fact, such a glory roll that logjam can threaten: “showstopper” is not always a recommendation when the show must go on. This staging never stops powering through."
"... it swings up, down and sideways, enveloping the audience without ever dimming the dazzle of performance."
"This is immersive theatre with real point. It is not only that you gain new thrills, see new jokes from being close to the action. This is an all-out urban story: it should never freeze into set pieces; it needs city jostle and faces from the street."
"It is an evening of beautiful sweep, not dependent on stars. Still, the leads are terrific."
"Hurrah! A joyous liberation from our age’s ghastly priggishness"
"From the opening blast of the overture you know Nicholas Hytner’s production of Guys and Dolls is going to be a belter."
"The energy and confidence are total. And there is no fannying about with political correctness."
"Wallace has wonderful swagger and nearly steals the night, particularly with Take Back Your Mink, when she is surrounded by chorus girls with old-fashioned va-va-voom. One reason this show soars is that it is shamelessly sexy."
"But the show’s turbo-charger, particularly in the first half, is Daniel Mays as Nathan. Mays has all the physical equipment for comedy"