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GUYS & DOLLS (article first published : 2001-07-11)

Northcliff High School from Johannesburg is back in Durban for the third time with what has become an annual presentation of a well-known musical. We first saw this pro-active school presenting Chicago in 1999 followed by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last year.

Both productions were highly-competent and enjoyable, displaying a wide array of talented youngsters who have the potential of finding their way into the acting business when they finish their schooling.

This year, director Nick Jourdan has chosen Guys and Dolls which deals with the unlikely relationship of high-flying gambler Skye Masterson and Sister Sarah Brown of the Salvation Army. Based on the story and characters of Damon Runyan it features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser from the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

Once again, Northcliff has produced a production worthy of note despite its youthful and inexperienced cast. The most exciting feature of this show is the discovery of a Ruth Millson who plays Miss Adelaide, a cabaret singer hopelessly in love with commitment-shy gambler Nathan Detroit. This young lady is all of 16 but looks as if she has spent all her life in theatre. Her confident stage presence is riveting and she has a good voice. If she does choose to make theatre her profession, stand by for a performer to watch.

Fresh-faced and endearing, Marilyn Bates is a lovely Sarah and Warren Garvie brings a solid strength and maturity to the role of Skye, being particularly good in My Time of Day. As Nathan Detroit, Rigel Andreoli has a lively sense of comedy as do his sidekicks Society Max (Connell Kingsburgh), Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Johnathan Roxmouth), Benny Southstreet (Chris Gouws) and Rusty Charley (Daniel Botha).

Frank vd Linde handles the part of Arvide Abernathy with sympathy and his More I Cannot Wish You was well handled. The mission band - Grace Debeila, Kyle Whiteside and Khensane Hlongwane - is delightful.

There are some highly entertaining scenes, such as A Bushel and a Peck, If I Were a Bell and Luck be a Lady. Marilyn Bates and Ruth Millson were excellent in their rendering of Sarah and Miss Adelaide’s duet Marry the Man Today.

In the first half, the tempo could have been a little livelier and there were a few glitches in set changes. But these niggles apart, Guys and Dolls is a delight and well worth a visit. The cast is well-disciplined both musically and in their performances.

Guys and Dolls runs in the Playhouse Drama from July 10 to 15. Performance times: July 10 to 14 at 19h30 with matinees on July 11 and 14 at 14h30. The performance on July 15 is at 18h00. Book at TicketWeb or Playhouse box office. More details from Nick Jourdan on 083 744- 3754.




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