Direct from the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End, The Liverpool Empire this week welcomes the latest highly-acclaimed production of Guys and Dolls. With a cast and orchestra of over 40, the sizzling New York tale of gamblers, gangsters and nightclub singers featuring some of Broadway’s greatest show-stopping tunes, including Luck be a Lady, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat and My Time of Day will once again be in the city four just 5 shows.
Starring in the show are some of the UKs finest musical and acting talents, including Richard Fleeshman, Maxwell Caulfield and – marking her return to The Empire following last year’s appearance in Judy: The Songbook of Judy Garland – Louise Dearman, who will be filling the role of Miss Adelaide following her critically acclaimed performances in the hit Donmar Warehouse production of Guys and Dolls in 2006 as Sarah Brown. “Miss Adelaide is an absolute sweetheart to play and just so much fun,” Louise explained ahead of the show.
“She works at the Hot Box Strip Club and has for years and years, and once upon a time held dreams of being a big star. These days though she just loves her job, the girls she works with and dreams now of marrying her sweetheart Fiancé, Nathan Detroit, who is played by Maxwell Caulfield. It genuinely is one of my favourite musicals with a wonderful story and just incredible music.
When people come and see the show they’ll recognise so many of the songs. It’s got some great scenes in it, too, like those in The Hot Box and the underground sequences when the guys are all playing Dice so it is a real feast for the eyes as well the ears. I think this production is particularly true what the show should be as well, with all the vibrancy and fun and sentiment it really needs.”
With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, the story is based on The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown, which was turned into a hit movie in 1955 starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons. The show won five Tony awards for its original production but nevertheless remains something that is pretty difficult to compare with anything else. “I have to admit that before the 2006 production I didn’t know a great deal about it at all,” Louise explained.
“Now though it has become one of my very favourites and the story is just brilliant. In that production I played Sarah Brown and now I’m back to play Miss Adelaide, so I guess I’m the correct age to play the part which a good thing and very exciting as a musical actress. It is a fabulous cast, too, with Maxwell Caulfield playing Nathan Detroit, Richard Fleeshman playing Sky Masterson and Anna O’Byrne playing Sarah Brown. It is just a brilliant ensemble, with everyone bringing something thrilling to the table.”
The Liverpool Empire is also the opening date of the UK tour. “We’re definitely ready, we’ve been rehearsing for a month now and been at The Savoy Theatre where the show is currently running, which has been a bit of a luxury to be able to rehearse with the sets and costumes all in place, so we’ll be ready for you Liverpool.”
Does Louise still get nervous? “Goodness me, yes. Absolutely. Who wouldn’t be with 1,000 people plus watching you? I like to think it is a lot more nervous excitement, to be honest, but I firmly believe that if you don’t get nervous then you don’t really care about what you’re doing or your character. In fact I always tell my students that it is perfectly natural to be nervous and to embrace it.
Over the years I have developed techniques to curb or suppress them a little bit – like breathing exercises, for instance – and concentrating on the character rather than thinking ‘Oh, that’s me out there’. Once the first scene or the first song is over though, I feel absolutely fine and find the nervous energy has died down.”
Louise last appeared on the Empire stage last year in Judy: The Judy Garland Songbook and, also in 2015, at The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall with The John Wilson Orchestra with Gershwin in Hollywood. However, arguably her most memorable role came again at The Empire with the 2008 Touring Production of Evita, alongside Seamus Cullen as Che; one of the most astonishing performances of Eva to have ever graced the stage. “That tour was an incredible experience and I remember that on the opening night of the tour – again in Liverpool – my good friend Samantha Womack was there, in the audience.
She’d phoned me up to ask when the opening night was and tried desperately hard to try and get up to see it; at the time she was filming on a pretty hectic schedule for Eastenders. So, anyway, all the conventional methods were ruled out so, in order to get there, she decided to hire a helicopter, which was just amazing of her and made the night just that bit more unforgettable than it already had been. I’ve had some great experiences in Liverpool, I just love it up there. The Empire is a fantastic theatre and the audience are always up for enjoying what they’re watching which always helps us on the stage.”
So what can they expect from this production of Guys and Dolls? “It is everything that the show should be and slaps you in the face with colour and vibrancy. It has simply sensational music and incredible choreography. The story will take you on a real journey on which you laugh, cry but definitely walk out with a huge smile on your face. What more could you ask for?”
Guys and Dolls will be at The Liverpool Empire Theatre, 16th – 19th March, 2016. For Tickets: 0844 871 3017 or go to www.atgtickets.com/Liverpool