Tuesday night we went to see Guys and Dolls at the Picadilly Theatre in London's West End. Where else? The show starred Patrick Swayze. Our seats were up in the top circle, which made them half the price of the stalls, but which removed us a bit from the action. At least that's the excuse I'm offering for why the show seemed at times totally uninspiring.
Don't get me wrong. Some of the set pieces were good. Some were absolutely well executed, but when it came to the scenes of dialogue which string the show together and create the characters that we should care about when the songs happen, it felt like the director either didn't understand the script, or didn't care about realising what was written. I speak, of course, as someone who has performed in a version of this show, so I have a very particular director's vision in mind. However, biased though I clearly am, I can't believe how much of the script was rushed through without care for why it was written that way. In my opinion you either make something of the line or change/remove it if it doesn't fit the tone of the production. This latter approach should be used sparingly to tidy up things which have dated since the show was written - 1950.
So much of it turned out to be a disappointment for me, and an exact justification for anyone who says that musicals are rubbish. Though the full cast song and dance routines were barn storming, and with that set, it often felt like there was a barn in use, the thread of the show was inconsistently woven. I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the director.
Big name casting doesn't help much. Swayze was okay, but almost distracted from the show as he wasn't really playing his character as much as playing Patrick Swayze, older than you remember him, in front of a crowd of people who had come to see him. Up in the cheap seats, where the manners are less refined, and every song is an excuse to talk or open sweets, the sight of a hollywood star on a stage in the middle distance was a matter of great excitement.
I went to see Guys and Dolls. I saw something like it, but I wish it had been done better. As big Jule might say 'I'm really sorry'.