This Christmas director Michael Buffong transports the smash-hit musical GUYS AND DOLLS up-town to 1939 Harlem in the UK’s first all-Black cast production of this iconic show. Celebrating the off-beat stories of Damon Runyon that made the gangsters and hustlers of New York City infamous, GUYS AND DOLLS is co-produced by the Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company – the UK’s primary Black led touring theatre company. Ray Fearon as the charming Nathan Detroit leads a cast that includes Ashley Zhangazha, Abiona Omonua and Lucy Vandi. The reimagined GUYS AND DOLLS is developed with the award winning hip-hop dancer and choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy and runs from 2 December – 27 January.
Director Michael Buffong said: “Pre-war Harlem was all about the hustle. The creativity of that era was born from a unique collision of talent and circumstance as people escaped the agricultural and oppressive South via the ‘underground railroad’ into the highly urbanised and industrialised North. Much of our popular culture, from dance to music, has its roots in that period. Our GUYS AND DOLLS brings all of this to the fore, in superb, celebratory style.”
Nathan Detroit (Ray Fearon) and Sky Masterson (Ashley Zhangazha) take every opportunity to hustle, settling every dispute with a roll of the dice. Lady Luck is on their side, until one night they both take a chance on love. With unforgettable songs including Luck Be A Lady, Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat and the infectious title number, this high-energy production captures the allure of secrecy, and the romance of living on the edge.
The press night for this tale of the New York underground will be Wednesday 6th December, 7.30pm.
Ray Fearon has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was the first Black actor in four decades to play the title role in Othello at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1999. In addition to other RSC productions such as Hecuba and Julius Caesar, his stage credits include A Raisin In The Sun (Royal Exchange Theatre) and Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe). His film credits include Beauty & The Beast, The Foreigner and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. His TV work includes Da Vinci’s Demons, Snatch and Coronation Street.
Michael Buffong is the Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company. His credits for the Royal Exchange Theatre include the critically acclaimed King Lear, All My Sons (with Don Warrington) and A Raisin In The Sun. Other theatre credits include: God’s Property (Talawa Theatre Company, Soho Theatre and the Albany); The Serpent’s Tooth (Talawa Theatre Company and Almeida Theatre); Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (Royal National Theatre).
Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy is Co-Founder & Co-Artistic Director of Boy Blue Entertainment, Associate Artists of the Barbican, and one of the top choreographers and performers in the UK urban, commercial and theatrical scenes. Kenrick’s credits are extensive and include theatre, TV and film, both nationally and internationally. BBE’s most recent work, Blak Whyte Gray, is nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.
Musical Supervisor Nigel Lilley and Musical Director Mark Aspinall return to the Exchange following their work on the award-winning, and UK Theatre nominated, sell-out musical SWEET CHARITY.
FULL CAST & CREATIVES
Ray Fearon as Nathan Detroit
Ashley Zhangazha as Sky Masterson
Abiona Omonua as Sarah Brown
Lucy Vandi as Miss Adelaide
Fela Lufadeju as Benny Southwest
Javar La’Trail Parker as Rusty Charlie
Trevor A Toussaint as Arvide Abernathy
Chelsey Emery as Agatha
Jaime Tait as Calvin
T’Shan Williams as Martha
Ewen Cummins as Lieutenant Brannigan
Kurt Kansley as Harry The Horse
Darren Charles as Society Max
Nathanael Campbell as Liverlips Louis
Toyan Thomas-Browne as Moe
Evonnee Bentley-Holder as Mimi
Melanie Marshall as General Matilda B Cartwright
Joe Speare as Big Jule
Koko Basigara as Allison
Danielle Kassaraté as Angie The Ox
A musical fable of Broadway based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Directed by Michael Buffong
GUYS AND DOLLS
2 December – 27 January
Press Night: Wednesday 6 December, 7.30pm – The Theatre