Guys and Dolls 1989

Guys and Dolls

Leicester Haymarket Theatre

December 27th 1988 to January 28th 1989

Joe as 'Sky Masterson' on stage at Leicester Haymarket Theatre

January 1989.

Joe played the role of Sky Masterson in this production, after taking over from Mark.



On 19th November 1988, at Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre, Mark McGann took on the role of 'Sky Masterson' in Guys and Dolls for what was intended to be a 10 week run.

During the course of the play Joanne Campbell (playing Sarah Brown) was required to give Mark a slap round the face. One particular evening, she hit a little too hard, leaving Mark needing surgery for a perforated eardrum. He would then need a month to convalesce so would be unable to return to the role. It was decided to contact Joe, who agreed to take over the role from Mark on 2nd January.

Fate intervened again though, and Mark came down with a serious flu virus and the Boxing Day performance had to be cancelled. With less than 24 hours notice, as Mark showed no signs of improvement, Joe stepped in and took over on the 27th December.

I saw Joe's second performance, on the 28th December, and he was excellent.


The Daily Mirror, on the 28th December, printed an article titled 'Show's fans storm the box office'. The article ran with basically the true story - their mistake was in saying Joe was Mark's understudy and couldn't be contacted. Not true. He was never an understudy and no attempt was made to contact him on that occasion.

On the 4th January the Daily Express featured an article entitled 'Good guy Joe shows his brotherly love'. It was very accurate and told the story of what had happened.

Then 'The Stage' decided to join in on the 5th January with an article 'No Joe, no show!' - it basically stated that when Mark was ill, Joe (his supposed understudy) couldn't be traced and the show had to be cancelled. They were contacted by the Haymarket Theatre and by Marina Martin Management (Joe's agent at the time) and on the 12th followed with an article entitled 'Brother Joe was no understudy to Mark'. It told the true story, but no apology was made.

Joe is a consummate professional and at this time was very upset that he was being made out to be less than that.

The Haymarket complained and Marina Martin Management threatened to sue for defamation of character. On 19th January The Stage finally apologised, in full, and ended the article with the line "We understand no attempt was made to contact him to perform on that day. We would like to apologise to Joe for our suggestions to the contrary and are pleased to take this opportunity to put the record straight."

Joe at the Leicester Haymarket

 28th December 1988

Happy with his first show under his belt!

Photography by Sam Parker

Guys and Dolls Review

Mark's portrayal of Sky Masterson was as a tough, seasoned gambler, but was played in such a way that it was still credible for him to fall in love and become a reformed character.

Mark gave many excellent performances, so it was with some trepidation that I went to see the show after Joe had taken over. Mark is a hard act to follow and Joe had only four days of rehearsals. Joe was originally due to take over in January 1989, but was thrown in at the deep end after Mark contracted flu and had to do his first performance on the 27th December.

Although mistakes were inevitably made, Joe coped extremely well. To his credit, he didn't try to play Sky in the same way Mark had done, though similarities were obvious. Joe's added height and build gave the character a harder image to begin with, so he counteracted this by playing Sky in a softer, more innocent way.

Both Mark and Joe sing and act well, so although comparisons will be made, I think anyone would find it hard to say one is better than the other.

They each interpreted the character of Sky Masterson in their own way and gave two very different, very good performances. There was one outstanding similarity however. Both Mark and Joe, for their first few performances, appeared to have trouble keeping in step for the encore chorus line!

Michelle Harris 1989

This review first appeared in the ‘McGann Appreciation Society’ Magazine


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