Staging a show in the run-up to Easter is a big gamble.
Sure, a popular musical is always going to draw crowds but timing it for the holidays is a risky business.
However, Ripley and Alfreton Musical Theatre Company has placed a winning bet – this week’s production of Guys and Dolls is attracting sell-out audiences.
The cast plays out the story of gambling-addicted sinners turned missionary-converted winners in a production which is bright and breezy and fizzing with energy.
Characters as colourful as the scarlet, turquoise and acid yellow suits sported by the high-rolling gamblers are vividly brought to life in a show which is packed with well-sung, well-known songs such as Luck Be A Lady and Take Back Your Mink.
The stand-out song of the show, Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat, is wonderfully performed by Matthew Bird, playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson, with outstanding accompaniment from the ensemble who turns the scene into a well-crafted piece of movement. Even the six-strong band, led by musical director Andy Booth, lets rip, appearing to enjoy playing this number as much as the cast do singing it.
Lead couple Rachel Clines and Andy Quinn bring confident singing to their respective roles of missionary doll Sarah Brown and gambling ace Sky Masterson as well as proving nifty dancers in a lively Cuban nightclub scene.
Yvonne Taylor and Kim Harris milk the laughs in their characterisations of the lovelorn, sniffling Miss Adelaide and her tightwad, cheating boyfriend Nathan Detroit. She also shows off a neat pair of pins as the leader of the basque-clad dancers who put plenty of ooh la la into the choreography.
The set is simple but effective – giant gambling chips double as stairs and a pair of dice act as podiums. Even the floor of the raked stage at Alfreton Grange Arts College is marked out like a game board with the words raise, fold, odd and even at each corner.
If you’re fortunate to have a golden ticket to see the show, which is directed by Phil Simcox, there’s a great deal for you to look forward to.
And if you want to watch this cracking production, better move quickly – at the time of writing, there were only a few tickets left for Saturday.