It’s big, it’s bold, it’s brassy and it is absolutely brilliant.
The bright lights of 1950s New York City shone on the Volunteer Hall this week when the curtain went up on Galashiels Opera’s production of Guys and Dolls.
On the bustling streets of Broadway we meet loveable thugs and their long-suffering dolls. Nathan Detroit (Graham Howlieson) runs the “oldest established permanent floating crap game” in New York. He is desperately trying to find a place for his latest game while simultaneously striving to keep his fiancé, Adelaide (Carla McColgan) of 14 years from becoming his wife.
Meanwhile, high roller Sky Masterson, (Ivor Lumsden) arrives in town, and in an effort to raise the $1,000 needed to secure the Biltmore Garage as the venue for his game, Nathan bets Sky that he can’t get the local Salvation Army Mission’s leader, Sarah Brown (Lisa Watson), to go to Havana with him for dinner.
Sky takes on the bet, telling Sarah he is a newly repentant sinner, and he promises that he will deliver 12 or more other genuine sinners at a meeting to be held at the Mission the following day on the condition that she have dinner with him.
Around that premises is wrapped some of the best music you’ll ever hear, including Guys and Dolls, Bushel and a Peck, Luck Be a Lady, and Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.
Without exception, the performances in the principal roles are outstanding.
Seasoned veterans of the Gala stage Ivor Lumsden (Sky) and Lisa Watson (Sarah) effortlessly stamp their mark on their leading roles with cocky swagger and innocent naivity, their voices blending so well in some of the more memorable duets in the show.
The spectacular pairing of Graham Howlieson (Nathan) and Carla McColgan (Adelaide) is inspired, they are the fizz and pop in the sasparilla.
McColgan is sensational as the sparky Hot Box star looking to hook her man – she can dance, she can sing and boy can she act. Who would have thought this was her first leading role? I am sure it won’t be her last.
Howlieson is a born comedic actor and plays Detroit’s lovable rogue to perfection (all those years of panto have certainly paid off).
It is not only the featured leads that bring this show to life as all the many supporting characters take this production to a new level.
Clark Eaton Turner (Nicely Nicely) and Michael Hyslop (Benny Southstreet) have the place jumping, particularly during Guys and Dolls, and Eaton Turner and the Company version of the classic Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.
Alastair Waddell (Arvide Abernethy) brings a touch of class to the proceedings with his smooth and soulful rendition of More I Cannot Wish For, while Ken Lamb steals the moment (as he always does so well) as Chicago mobster Big Jule.
All the Guys are magnificent – great singing and dancing. Choreographer Marie McCullough has certainly put everyone through their paces with some of the best routines to be seen for a long time, certainly worthy of any Broadway production.
Special mention has to go to GAOS first-timer Brian Magowan who plays Lt Brannigan like an Irish whirlwind, a joy to watch.
As with the Guys, the Dolls in this production are excellent.Glittering dancers provide the showstopping moments (which there are many), and throughout it is the company that create the scenes and provide colour for the story. Without their hard work the show could not go on.
Once more congratulations have to go to producer and musical director Jeff Thomson who has provided us all with a spectacular, musical and visual feast, bringing together some of the finest local talent around and giving us all one of the best shows in recent history.