Casting has been announced for the U.K.’s first all-black production of the classic American musical Guys and Dolls, which will be presented December 2–January 27, 2018, at the Royal Exchange Theatre.
Director Michael Buffong transports the Frank Loesser musical uptown to 1939 Harlem. The limited engagement is co-produced by the Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company.
This reimagined Guys and Dolls was developed with award-winning hip-hop dancer and choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy.
The cast will comprise 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, and Danielle Kassaraté as Angie The Ox.
In a statement director 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 urbanized and industrialized 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.”
The production will also have musical supervision by Nigel Lilley and musical direction by Mark Aspinall.
A musical fable based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls has music and lyrics by Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
A production of Guys and Dolls starring all African-American performers previously played Broadway in 1976. The cast was led by Norma Donaldson as Miss Adelaide, Robert Guillaume as Nathan Detroit, Ernestine Jackson as Sarah Brown, and James Randolph as Sky Masterson. Billy Wilson directed and choreographed.