EXCLUSIVE: The catchy Broadway musical guys and dolls is to be revived at London’s The Bridge Theater next year with 420 spectators able to “party” with the cast, as the show’s director Nicholas Hytner (The Story Boys) said Deadline.
The immersive production is set to begin preview performances from February 27. The official opening night will take place on March 9.
Hytner, a former artistic director of Britain’s National Theater, said he and his associates chose guys and dolls “Because a lot is happening in public spaces like Times Square, Broadway and Havana.”
guys and dolls, described as a Broadway fable, is based on tales written by Damon Runyon, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
“Audiences will arrive to see our Times Square-like stage. Then they will follow the story through the Save-a-Soul mission and the Hat Box Club. Standing spectators move and party with the action and these are the cheapest tickets. They get the turnout and the show. I imagine bar-hopping in Havana in the early 1950s is something we would all love to do,” Hytner told us.
The roughly 600 people seated are just as close to the action, Hytner said. “And they have the advantage of watching the crowd that is part of the show,” he added.
guys and dolls intertwines two stories, both involving a bet. On the one hand, there’s Nathan Detroit’s need to find a home for his permanent, floating crap game; the other card trick has Sky Masterson betting he can sweep the missionary doll, Sarah Brown, off her feet and take her on a date.
Meanwhile, Nathan’s partner, or permanent fiancée, Miss Adelaide wants to end the game’s shenanigans so she can get married.
Hytner told Deadline that casting is underway. Pre-production began over two years ago but was halted by the pandemic. There were then rumors that Lily James (Pam and Tommy) was offered the role of Sarah Brown but was unavailable. Hytner declined to comment.
However, Hytner said, “I think what we’re looking for is the best people. What Cameron Mackintosh always says: “Make the show the star.” And that’s what we will do. It’s always better to find good people.
Hytner left the National Theater in 2015. He teamed up with Nick Starr, the National’s executive director, and together they helped create The Bridge Theatre, which sits in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge. The place opened in 2017.
Two of The Bridge’s most successful shows were immersive Shakespearean productions Julius Caesar and Dream of a summer night.
“We thought it would be great to do a great classic musical like this. We’ll have the band in there. I promise you it’ll be like a party,” Hytner said.
Bunny Christie will design the show with choreography by Arlene Phillips. James Cousins will serve as associate director and choreographer. Paule Constable will do the lighting; Paul Arditti on sound. Musical direction is by Tom Brady with orchestrations by Charlie Rosen.
Charlotte Sutton is in the cast.
Hytner said the series book would remain as is. “Some of his sexual policies may look like they’re 70 years old, but there’s a way to deal with that in the way you act it. You can say a line with some degree of ironic distance and you’re 99% of the way there.