BBC Southern Counties
1929 Chicago – two rival gangs run the city, and Johnny May is the new kid in town. 2005 Guildford – hot shot lawyer Steven Tancred is having doubts about marrying his boss's daughter. Then both worlds collide.
Steven visits a hypnotherapist to quit smoking and is accidentally regressed to a previous life where, as Johnny May, he’s the new addition to the second biggest gang in Chicago!
This musical got off to a lively start and the cast excelled themselves with a perfectly choreographed performance in the first number, The Monday Morning Meeting.
This was one of two songs that really stood out, in the large repertoire of over 13, not including the reprises. The other being the Rat-A-Tat Rag, which again was performed beautifully, by Julian Littman (Bugs Moran/Arnold Robertson) and ensemble.
Anne Rogers had the crowd in a frenzy with her comic rendition of In The Rain. Although she was very amusing, the audience reaction may have had more to do with her reputation and popularity with the Guildford theatre goers, rather than her actual vocal prowess last night.
We felt Jody Crosier’s vocal performance as Steven Tancred/Johnny May, was also a little weak, in comparison with Paul Bentley’s (Gregory Pilsworth), Tiffany Graves’ (Barbara Pilsworth) or Jo Gibb’s (Linda Clarke).
However, it was great to see the young talents of the GSA Conservatoire showcased in the ensemble and we were impressed by the strength and harmony of their collective voices.
Douglas Heap should be congratulated for his imaginative set design which made full use of the space and helped keep the action fast paced throughout. (Note to the set construction team: Use more screws! It would have been rather unfortunate if the cast member it narrowly missed, had been flattened on stage by the large piece of backdrop which fell off halfway through!)
Overall, it really was a thoroughly entertaining show, and kept us hooked.
It did turn slightly farcical towards the end, but it was written and directed by Master of Farce Ray Cooney, so you can’t blame him for adding his ‘signature touch’
It was nice to see such a big cast in a lively musical show on stage at Guildford and hopefully it will lead the way for others to follow.