Whilst many of us may have spent the summer months relaxing, Preston Musical Comedy Society were preparing for a dazzling performance in Preston’s Charter Theatre
When I was invited by Preston Musical Comedy Society (or PMCS for something less tongue-twisting) to take an exclusive sneak-peek at rehearsals of their forthcoming presentation of the much loved 1950’s musical – ‘Guys and Dolls’, I jumped at the chance, wondering what razzmatazz PMCS might inject into the popular rom-com which is bursting with the glamour & charm you’d expect from a troupe of down-town Manhattan showgirls, gangsters, high-rolling gamblers (…and missionaries!?). I wasn’t disappointed.
I awkwardly snuck in during one of the play’s more intimate scenes. Sky Matterson (PADDY WALSH) unexpectedly kisses Sarah Brown (LAURA-LYN OGDEN) but the kiss is quickly broken by a sharp slap to Sky’s face. The pair, flirtatiously feisty & solemnly stern, forge a captivating chemistry between them.
Sombre moments were relieved by the bold brass duo that is Miss Adelaide (JULIE OLDFIELD) & Nathan Detroit (DEREK WINWARD) who did a good job of playing a pair of loveable rogues. Their slapstick rendition of “Sue Me” was surprisingly impactful & heart-warming thanks to the comical choreography by Lona Cookson; creator of the routines.
EDDIE REGAN gave a solid performance as a stern but fair Arvide Abernathy, a caring father-like figure to Sarah Brown. ‘Fatherlike’ are words that will echo with Eddie as coincidently his father also played the very same role in the 80’s for PMCS.
The director, Neil Townsend, has done a splendid job balancing amusing outbursts with sincere moments throughout the musical. He has been as playful as can be with the characters having kept faithful to the original script & score; he’s not been at all bashful with the set or costume either. The animated characters are emphasised by the striking cartoon-like set, which would sit comfortably in a scene in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. The flamboyant costumes dazzle.
It all makes for quite an impact, helped moreover by the 30 strong cast of seasoned PMCS regulars & newbies, as well as the 14-piece orchestra led by noted conductor, Helen Harrison. Everyone gave it their all, and it showed; particularly in the big ensemble musical numbers.
The cast worked well together to present a spectacle of a showpiece that was lively, energetic & dynamic. With numerous National Operatic & Drama Awards under the belts of many in the group, it was no surprise they worked like a well-oiled machine.
PMCS have been performing ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the Charter Theatre since Wednesday 14th September. Their last performance; Saturday September 17th.