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Guys & Dolls, WOW! - Witham Public Hall

Guest Reviewer: Christine Davidson, 19th Feb 2022

It is always a delight to be asked to review Witham Operatic Workshop (WOW). This highly talented group always have a new intake of eager youngsters, shining in front of an enthusiastic full house audience. Some were as young as eleven, on stage for the first time, giving characterisation and accents that would leave some adults to shame. Well done everyone for never dropping you accents. To see everyone smiling on stage and having so much fun is infectious and the audience on Saturday night obviously loved it as they gave a standing ovation.

With award winning Director Nikki Mundell-Poole at the helm, you know that the production is going to be a winner, and indeed it was. Nikki always designs great sets for her shows, this one was no exception. A large stage with upper walkway and centre steps leaving lots of room for the large cast to dance and act. No problems with changing scenes as she had use of an LED screen, and simple cut out skyscrapers with light came through for night time scenes. The back stage crew are to be commended for being totally unobtrusive and the lighting effects all really worked well, to give us flavour of the times during the show. Props were excellent for this production.

Nikki’s choices of colourful costumes were amazing, with the men in suits and hats all colours of the rainbow instead of the usual pin stripe gangster style that we usually see. Indeed both the scenes and costumes were a feast for the eyes and I congratulate Nikki on the hard work that went into making this show a joy to look at as well as to listen to.

Guys and Dolls has a fabulous score with classics such as ‘Luck be a Lady Tonight’, ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ and the crowd pleaser ‘Sit Down you’re Rocking the Boat’ With excellent dialogue and well-drawn characters it certainly has stood the test of time.

Playing the roles of Sarah Brown and Sky Masterson were Liv Possee and Jenson Bacon. This was a good pairing with Liv looking the role in her Salvation Army uniform and then transforming during her drunk scene in Havana; she acted and sung well, Jenson Bacon as Sky was absolutely wonderful, looking extremely handsome with oodles of confidence he sung beautifully and in the end showed his tender side. Jenson is certainly one to watch in future productions.

The roles of Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit, the loveable rogue, were a match made in heaven. Hannah Ireland who was lead in their last production of Legally Blonde, was an excellent choice and had great rapport with Fraser McLauchlan as Nathan. Their song together of ‘Sue Me’ was tender and touching;

Will Hackett as Nicely Nicely Johnson had a superb voice and stage presence. In his vivid bright green suit his rendition of ‘Sit Down you’re Rocking the Boat’ was one of the highlights of the show. Will is also someone I would love to see on stage more as he is very charismatic.

Arvide Abernathy (Ryan Wuyts) had a key scene with Sarah and his song ‘More I cannot give you’’ was very believable.

Minor principals of Ben Rolph as Benny Southstreet, Kieran Wingrove (Harry the Horse) Fionn Crickett (Rusty Charlie), James March (Angie the Ox), Michael Stewart as Lt Brannigan and Madison Austin as General Matilda Cartwright, all gave admirable support to the show. I particularly loved young James Green as Big Julie. For someone so vertically challenged to act this role as if he was 6ft tall takes some doing but he did it so well and I commend him for keeping his character going all the way through. The Hot Box girls sang and danced well with great energy and attention to detail, great harmonies were given by the entire ensemble.

The choreography by Nikki and Charlotte Watling was superb and I love the still montage scene right at the beginning of the show which really set the scene for the show.

Musical Director Emma Nash worked well with her orchestra of 8 and I never felt that they overwhelmed the cast with their music. To be able to hear every word of dialogue, which this musical has quite a lot, is a joy, I hate to hear mumbling. From the smiles on everyone’s faces on stage you could see just how much it meant to them all, to be putting on this production, which had been put on hold over the lockdown.

Congratulations WOW, for again producing another excellent show and I look forward to seeing you all next year in “All Shook Up”.

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