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HHTC always endeavour to up their game, and I think on the musicals front this was a particularly good production.

The set was exceedingly good – with excellent lighting and quick, efficient scene changes – everything worked really well and was smooth and slick.

Performing in the round was good idea – however, the cast didn’t seem to be buying in to it totally – which meant that those people sitting at the sides of the stage were treated to a lot of back views, and I know in some cases it changed their view of how a song was presented.  

In the main the costumes were good – bright and colourful and mostly very suitable.  However, Sky’s light suit was not in period, compared with the other guys, and neither was Nathan’s. Adelaide and the Hot Box Girls all looked the part in well-fitting costumes.

There were some good harmonies throughout, but I was missing something in Luck be a Lady – it seemed to be rather lacking in the harmony department, and  the action was rather stilted – it is a fast-moving energetic number, but didn’t quite live up to its rhythm!

I thought the band worked really well with the cast, and the sound balance was extremely good.  Dan Cowtan had obviously worked well with the cast to get a good standard of music, I enjoyed it all, and the band was very tuneful -  which is sometimes not the case.  A good mix of instruments that suited the piece.

It was quite good to see a more mature cast – particularly as the ages were fairly well-matched.  Lee Marsh gave us a well-acted Sky – all in all a good portrayal, and a nice relationship with Sarah.

I really enjoyed Helen Metheringham performance as Sarah – she got the right amount of niaivety and knowingness, along with great fun during If I Were a Bell, and you could almost feel her disgust over the use of the Mission for gambling – all good traits, and she sang the part beautifully.  

Sarah Winter was a very believable Adelaide, perhaps not quite as raucous as some I’ve seen, but nonetheless there was a rawness in her characterisation, and lots of emotion both real and contrived, when dealing with Nathan as played by Terry Casserley.  This was also a good partnership.  Terry got the real essence of Nathan, the wheeler dealer, who didn’t really want to settle down. Vocally the part suited him well, and he got the most out of it.  

I thought Arvide’s song was the best I’ve ever heard it – and it obviously resonated with the audience. The relationship between Arvide and Sarah was very real and empathetic throughout.

The opening was great fun – very lively, lots of action, and every part of the stage used and covered – I also liked the attention to detail.

Havana was also good fun– I thought the stage was dressed well, the whole colourful and well-costumed.  Always difficult to get the right amount of action when the majority of the cast are not natural dancers, but I think a good balance was struck, and the spacing was excellent.

Dilly Bellingham was a very sympathetic General Cartwright, it is one of those parts that is difficult to pitch – as there needs to be empathy, but I also wanted to see a bit more of steel behind the woman who was, after all the head of the Salvation Army.  I liked her reaction to the fact that Sky had got the guys there by a bet.  

Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat was well sung by Nicely-Nicely, but I wanted a bit more conviction from the cast, even though musically it was strong.  Geraint Whalley did a good job as Nicely Nicely Johnson – again a different characterisation to those I’ve seen before, more laid back and hardly a currant bun in sight!!  Well sung.

I thought the Fugue for Tin Horns was remarkably good – the voices were well-matched, and it was vocally strong, as well as interesting.  Paul Passi as Benny and Tony Harvey as Rusty Charlie, along with Nicely made it a good start to the show proper.  Oldest Established was also musically sound and well accomplished.

There was some charming touches and also some fun – as when Agatha (played by Penny Pomroy) took the drum from Arvide – those moments always lighten a situation.

Choreography was mostly good – it suited the cast and wasn’t too complicated, so everyone looked comfortable with it.

There are so many smaller parts, that I can’t mention everyone- but suffice to say everyone pulled their weight, and made some nice characterisations.

The finale was very lively, a fitting end to a great show.

A very good show overall, which I really enjoyed, and I heard nothing but praise from the audience – so you can all be proud of yourselves for a good job done, a super evening’s entertainment.


Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company

GUYS & DOLLS” review date: 17th May 2014 Boxmoor Playhouse

Director:  Maggie Harvey

MD: Dan Cowtan  Choreographer: Fiona Quilter-Wood


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