New Guys & Dolls cast takes the Bridge Theatre by storm

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

This ensemble piece continues to rock the boat, and Timmika Ramsay as Miss Adelaide is a knockout

Timmika Ramsay (Adelaide) (Image Credit Manuel Harlan)
Timmika Ramsay (Adelaide) (Image Credit Manuel Harlan)

Marisha Wallace was always going to be a hard act to follow. As Miss Adelaide in Nicholas Hytner’s immersive Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre, she tore up the rulebook, replacing the role’s traditional ditziness and adenoidal vocal quality with agency, sass and some killer dance moves. Little wonder that she’s just received an Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

But, as the press night for the new cast on 11 March – almost exactly a year after this production first opened – made abundantly clear, Timmika Ramsay has made the role firmly her own. By the time we reach ‘Take Back Your Mink’ at the beginning of Act Two, she has well and truly found her groove. Unapologetically sexy, and taking no prisoners (vis-à-vis the unsuspecting audience member who finds himself buried in her ample cleavage), Ramsay – who previously starred as La Chocolat in the West End’s Moulin Rouge – reveals multiple facets to this Hot Box Girl who yearns to be married and live in a house in the country with a white picket fence. She finds a touching vulnerability in ‘Sue Me’ in the line ‘I could honestly die’. And she displays a wicked sense of humour in ‘Marry The Man Today’.

Owain Arthur (Nathan) and Timmika Ramsay (Adelaide)

Owain Arthur (One Man, Two Guvnors) finds a twinkly-eyed softness to lovable rogue Nathan Detroit, and his chemistry with Ramsay develops as the show progresses: we really believe him when he speak-sings ‘I love you’ in ‘Sue Me’. Celinde Schoenmaker continues her role as Sarah Brown, demonstrating a masterclass in vocal technique in ‘If I Were a Bell’ after throwing all caution to the wind in Havana courtesy of multiple Dulce de Leches. George Ioannides could use a touch more swagger as Sky Masterson, although his duet with Schoenmaker, ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’, is a suitably tender Act One closer. And Jonathan Andrew Hume very nearly banishes Cedric Neal’s ghost as Nicely-Nicely in the 11 o’clock showstopper ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat’.

Jonathan Andrew Hume (Nicely-Nicely) and company

But this show is an ensemble piece. From the classic opener ‘Fugue for Tinhorns’, to the voluptuous Hot Box Girls – sensational throughout – to the male dancers – thrilling in ‘Luck Be a Lady Tonight’, where Arlene Phillips’s choreography channels Jerome Robbins to brilliant effect – Guys & Dolls, particularly in Hytner’s production, is a collective endeavour. And the superb band’s placement in the gallery, clearly visible and presiding over the action below, only enforces this. As Sondheim might have said, ‘The show’s the thing’. And Hytner’s version of the show really is the thing – as witness the eight Olivier nominations it has just received in addition to Best Actress, including Best Theatre Choreographer (Phillips with James Cousins) and Outstanding Musical Contribution (Tom Brady and Charlie Rosen). One suspects this is a production that can withstand any number of cast changes and will run and run.

Guys & Dolls is currently booking until 31 August 2024 –visit