I will truly admit I was a little bit shocked when I read the news that Rebel Wilson will be taking on the role of Miss Adelaide in the Westend production of Guys & Dolls, when I saw the news on Twitter I actually checked my calendar to ensure I was right about the date and it wasn’t, in fact, April 1st. I’m sure many people know Rebel from films such as Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids and How To Be Single, she is a funny lass, and we know from Pitch Perfect she can carry a tune. Now my concerns here are more in her acting skills, we know she can do funny, we’ve seen this a lot, but what about the more serious parts of the story? When Adelaide is upset that Nathan won’t marry her, during songs such as Sue Me, will she able to portray these emotions or will she try to make it comical?
This show is a classic and there are certain things that shouldn’t be messed with, whilst Adelaide should have you laughing with her during many parts of the show, there are also parts where you should feel for her, parts where you should almost feel sorry for her that she is basically being pushed aside by the man she loves due to gambling. It does concern me that she may bring too much comedy to the role and take away from it a lot of what is suppose to be there.
As this is Rebels first show I will certainly be giving her the benefit of the doubt and go along to make my own mind up. I am also interested to see how they tackle the costumes she will be wearing, for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, Adelaide spends portions on the show in leotard style corsets and there is a line in the show that refers to Adelaide wearing these style of outfits, so I will assume they won’t be able to be changed too dramatically, they may think it will add to the comical value to keep her in these costumes, it may however lead to quite uncomfortable viewing, especially for those in the front few rows of the stalls!
Being her first show it will also be interesting to see if she can cope with 8 shows a week and be able to with stand the demands of a physically, emotionally and vocally demanding role. Having said that, she has an extremely talented understudy; so if she does take time off, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
I was very lucky this week to catch Guys & Dolls at the Grand Theatre in Leeds. I count myself as extremely lucky to have caught it in this location in particular, and I think anyone else who did should also count themselves as extremely lucky. The reason for that is, quite simply, Lucy Jane Adcock. For those who don’t know, Lucy is the understudy for Miss Adelaide in the Westend, currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre, and will continue to be Rebels understudy. For the last 3 locations on the tour, whilst Louise Dearman had some planned time off, Lucy was given the opportunity to join the tour and take on the role, and boy did she do just that!
There is no part of her performance that can be faulted, she sang and acted the role like a true professional leading lady and danced the role to a standard I am yet to see by another Adelaide. From the moment she stepped onto the stage she shone through the entire theatre, she took on the role and made it her own. Lucy brought brilliant comic timing and equal amounts of emotion, she kept the audience captivated with Adelaides story, they laughed along with her as she grew forever frustrated at the love of her life, Nathan Detroit (Played by Maxwell Caulfield), sympathised with her as he continued to let her down time after time and then rejoiced with her as she finally managed to get the man of her dreams!
Each part of the story was beautifully played out, at no point did Lucy over play the part for laughs, she played it naturally and honestly and the laughs and applause from the the audience were genuine.
With that in mind is it time for theatre to take a stand and stop stunt casting. Instead letting the leading roles go to performers who have spent their lives training and undoubtably make the best performers, giving the audience exactly what they want…an incredible show!