Less than two months after film star Rebel Wilson joined the cast, replacing actress Samantha Spiro (Merrily We Roll Along) in the role of “Miss Adelaide,” the West End’s recent revival of Guys and Dolls was cut short on August 21st.
Directed by the New York-based Gordon Greenberg, the most recent revival of the 1950 Broadway classic was scheduled to run through January 7, 2017 at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.
The production began at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2014, and in December of 2015 it transitioned to the Savoy Theatre. From there, Guys and Dolls appeared at the Phoenix Theatre in March of this year, before its 10-month tour was cut short in August.
In a press statement, Greenberg outlined the motivation for moving the production onward to international locales:
“Having enjoyed rave reviews in the UK, the critically acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre production of Guys & Dolls will play its final performance in the West End on Sunday 21st August, prior to embarking on an international tour.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in the show to date and very much look forward to taking Guys & Dolls to an international audience, opening in Israel in September this year.”
The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Guys and Dolls took to the Israeli stage at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on September 14. By that time, Lucy Jane Adcock (Chicago, Fame) had taken over for Wilson in the role of Miss Adelaide.
Aside from Adcock’s addition, the main cast remained the same, including Simon Lipkin (Avenue Q, Rock of Ages) as gambling man Nathan Detroit, Oliver Tompsett (Wicked, We Will Rock You) as his would-be mark Sky Masterson, and film actress Siubhan Harrison as the demure Sarah Brown.
The original 1950 Broadway run of Guys and Dolls produced 1,200 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1951, along with four other Tonys.
The intrigue and action of underground craps games, and big money bets between “guys” over their ability to woo the “dolls,” was inspired by three of writer Damon Runyon’s short stories focusing on gangland activity in the 1920s. In fact, a Runyon story published inn 1933 entitled “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” first featured the Guys and Dolls characters of Sky Masterson and the titular Sarah Brown – with Runyon’s depiction of the streetwise Masterson inspired by real life casino sharp and pop culture figure Alvin “Titanic Thompson” Thomas.
The creative team working alongside Greenberg on his production of Guys and Dolls includes Gareth Valentine directing the musical stylings, Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright on choreography, Peter McKintosh providing set design, and Paul Groothuis working the soundboard.
During a press event to promote his current production of Holiday Inn, the New Irving Berlin Musical at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54, Greenberg was asked about the possibility of Guys and Dolls returning to Broadway under his stewardship:
“My hope is that it will come here. I’ve had several meetings about it, and there’s a lot of people interested.”
Asked about Wilson’s availability for a potential Broadway revival, Greenberg expressed the same sort of enthusiasm about the prospect:
“I would love for it to come here with Rebel Wilson in it. It’s like early Bette Midler watching her; she’s pretty insane and fearless. But the important thing is that she is someone that sets her mind to it and then never stops until it’s done. She would work ’til midnight every night to get things right. So, yes, I’d love for her to come.”
The original 1950 Broadway production of Guys and Dolls featured music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, with book written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The debut run starred Robert Alda as Sky Masterson, Isabel Bigley as Sarah Brown, Sam Levene as Nathan Detroit, and Vivian Blaine as Miss Adelaide.
Along with the 1951 Tony Award for Best Musical, the production received Tonys for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Alda), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Bigley), Best Choreography (Michael Kidd), and Best Direction of a Musical (George S. Kaufman).
The first West End revival of Guys and Dolls took the stage in 1953, before the show returned to London in 1982, and the West End specifically in 2005 and 2015.
As for Broadway revivals, Guys and Dolls returned to New York City in 1976, 1992, and 2009.
In April of 2014 a benefit show was produced at Carnegie Hall, with Nathan Lane reprising his Tony award nominated performance as Nathan Detroit in the 1992 Broadway revival – a show which did take the Tony for best revival.