NEWS: Ray Fearon & Ashley Zhangazha lead UK’s first all-black Guys & Dolls

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This Christmas director Michael Buffong transports GUYS AND DOLLS uptown to 1939 Harlem in the UK’s first all-black cast production of this iconic 1950 Broadway musical classic, which has been reimagined and developed with the award-winning hip-hop dancer and choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy. RSC veteran Ray Fearon leading the cast as Nathan Detroit.

GUYS AND DOLLS, a co-production between Talawa Theatre Company, the UK’s primary black led touring theatre company, and the Royal Exchange Theatre, runs in Manchester from 2 December 2017 to 27 January 2018, with a  press night on 6 December.

Fearon stars alongside Ashley Zhangazha as Sky Masterson, Lucy Vandi as Miss Adelaide and Abiona Omonua as Sarah Brown in a cast that also features West End stars Ako Mitchell as Nicely Nicely Johnson and Melanie Marshall as General Cartwright.

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.

GUYS AND DOLLS celebrates the off-beat stories of Damon Runyon that made the gangsters and hustlers of New York City infamous. It has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrons. The new production sees 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.

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.”

Ray Fearon, Lucy Vandi, Ashley Zhangazha and Abiona Omonua


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. 

Full cast list

  • 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
  • Ako Mitchell as Nicely Nicely Johnson
  • 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
  • Danielle Kassaraté as Angie The Ox
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Press Releases on Twitter
Press Releases
MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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