Damon Runyon’s books are the first fables of New York. His rapscallion players and vaudeville dance specialists talk in a sort of arcane dialect that is preposterously understandable and pretty much as compelling as Nadsat, the slanguage created by Anthony Powell for A Clockwork Orange.
Runyon’s characters have one foot on the walkway and the other in the billows of myth.
Pulling together Runyon’s universe of Times Square tricksters and Temperance Missionaries, Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows (with Jo Swerling) made a standout amongst the most paramount Broadway musicals ever keeping in mind Chichester’s restoration may not exactly eradicate memories of Richard Eyre’s unbelievable National Theater creation, it is a welcome expansion to the musical scene.
Drafting in US executive Gordon Greenberg and performance star Carlos Acosta, making his introduction as a business choreographer, goes somehow to nighttime out the chances.
Against a scenery of bursting lights and a monster deconstructed jigsaw of period promotions, the dedicated cast sing and move like there’s no tomorrow.
It’s certainly energizing – if a bit unacknowledged – however doesn’t gain identity until the entry of Chichester stalwart Peter Polycarpou who contributes Nathan Detroit, the business visionary of road betting, with the weaselly appeal of a regular conceived “fixer”.
Best of all is Sophie Thompson as Nathan’s long haul life partner Miss Adelaide. Having been locked in for 12 years, she says: “I kind of like when you neglect to provide for me displays. It makes me feel like we’re hitched.”
The landing of deep rooted player Sky Masterson (Jamie Parker) and the essential wager that he can bait minister Sarah Brown (Clare Foster) out on the town structures the plot on which the top dressing is laid. Also what dressing! Tunes, for example, Adelaide’s Lament and My Time of Day – in which Sky praises the pleasures of New York at 4.00am – are strong gold classics.
Acosta’s choreography is activity pressed and he tosses in graceful dance jumps, streetdance moves and Broadway sizzle in a distracted whirlwind of development that may profit from a bit of pruning.
The vaudeville bob of Take Back Your Mink is overall characterized as is the gospel-arched Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat however The Havana scene in which an undeniably intoxicated Sarah Brown goes head to head a Tropicalisma diva (Anabel Kutay) experiences visual over-burden.
Parker’s sub-Sinatra voice serves him well disregarding a slight nonappearance of “poissonality” and Foster can’t exactly accommodate her inward clash between Julie Andrews and Joyce Grenfell. However the outfit conveys a pummel that you feel the distance home.