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 at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
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.
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.