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Musical's stood test of time

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: October 10, 2013

By Adam Burgan, the arts and entertainment manager at The Octagon in Yeovil.

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IT'S a busy old time at The Octagon with our autumn season of shows in full swing.

Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society (YAOS) is treading the boards with its latest musical production Guys and Dolls which opened on Tuesday and looks set to be another hit for the society.

The musical is based on a collection of short stories by Damon Runyon set in New York's underworld of gamblers and criminals. It opened on Broadway in 1950 and was an instant hit, with the West End production opening the following year at the London Coliseum.

There have been numerous productions since, including a 1982 revival at the National Theatre directed by Richard Eyre and starring Bob Hoskins and Julia McKenzie and a 2005 revival directed by Michael Grandage starring Ewan McGregor, Douglas Hodge and Jane Krakowski.

The latter production ran for two years before embarking on a national tour, so it is no surprise the musical has remained popular with a very funny script and a great score that boasts a string of hits including Luck Be A Lady, Sit down You're Rocking The Boat, If I Were A Bell, I've Never Been in Love Before and the title song.

A film version was released in 1955 starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Stubby Kaye. Gene Kelly was originally considered for the role of Sky Masterson but MGM refused to release him for the film and the role went to Brando who at the time was considered the biggest box office star.

A new film version is in the pipeline with Channing Tatum in the role of Masterson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the role of Nathan Detroit.

Guys and Dolls is certainly one of the coolest musicals and whilst I'm not a huge fan of the film version, the stage production is a superb piece of musical theatre.

The YAOS production is in the experienced hands of director/choreographer Alan Spencer and musical director Matt Holmes. With a fantastic cast and production team, who have all worked their socks off over the past few months, the show looks set to be another triumph.

From all the staff at The Octagon we say "break a leg" to all the cast and crew for the performance that runs to Saturday.

No sooner has one production ended then the members of YAOS will be hard at work on their next production. In March next year the society will be one of the first amateur companies to perform Sister Act. YAOS is always looking for new members who are invited to come and audition on Wednesday, October 23. For more information visit www.yaos. org.uk – who knows next year it could be you up on stage.

Next week we will be delving into fantastical history with productions of Jason and the Argonauts and Bram Stoker's Dracula. These dramatic tales will be vividly brought to life on the stage. On Friday, Barbara Dickson returns to The Octagon where she will perform to a sell-out audience.

Looking ahead so many of our autumn shows have already sold out which is fantastic news. We are currently working on our spring season of performances with our next season brochure due out in November. Lots of exciting shows coming up that I'll be able to tell you all about very soon.

It's carnival season in Somerset and this year our staff are joining in the fun. You may see our new Land Rover Discovery, generously supplied by Yeovil Land Rover, which has been covered in Snow White artwork – you really can't miss it. So if you are going to the carnivals and you spot The Octagon car and staff please give us a wave and cheer.

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