Largs Amateur Operatic Society don't often take a gamble such are the quality of their productions of late, but with 'Guys and Dolls', nobody need worry as it was an obligatory part of the show... and they were on to a winner from the off, writes Calum Corral.

While the title itself suggests it is opposites who attract, the beauty of this blockbuster Broadway play is in essence timeless as it reflects the power of money, love, evil, gambling and the laws of attraction. In other words, the perfect ingredients for a magnificent musical.

And the general premise of the stage show is a very good one which means that as well as plenty of catchy tubthumping tunes from Broadway at Barrfields, there is some good humour blended into the dramatic background of New York's mean streets as an amazing bet is laid down for a disreputable gambler (is there any other kind?!) Sky Masterson to win the heart of missionary and Salvation Army do-gooder Miss Sarah Brown. All this is to stop Nathan Detroit win $1000 to pay for the use the Biltmore Hotel garage to run his illegal betting enterprises.

The large ensemble cast all played their parts wonderfully well and in a sense it was a coming together of the generations as it was from 18-80 in this slick production.

Inverkip's Jennifer Kyle was well cast as the ever so righteous Sarah Brown, and you could have listened to her voice all night long such was its angelic quality, while shrewd casting saw Andy Park as the lead as Sky Masterson whose efforts to woo Sarah caused much hilarity. Such a strong singer and a star in past productions, it really made for a first class pairing throughout, but it wasn't just hearts that were all a flutter!

And in the second romantic throw of the dice, Karen Wilkin once again shone as Nathan Detroit's long suffering girlfriend of 14 years, Miss Adelaide, cast aside too many times for her liking, and again Karen's excellent chemistry with Allan MacLean's Nathan Detroit was one of the true delights of this loud and proud production.

The show got off to a blistering start and set the scene as three small time gamblers Nicely-Nicely Johnson (David Cameron), Benny Southstreet (Calum McVittie) and Rusty Charlie (Gordon Fyfe) argue over which horse will win a particular race. Employed by Sky Masterston, all three played the gangster type with great gusto, while beleaguered copper Lt Brannigan attempts to keep some kind of order, played with panache by rising star Matthew Wilkin.

At the mission, Sky claims he wants to be saved, and offers Sarah a deal - he will bring the mission 'one dozen genuine sinners' if she will accompany him to Havana the next night. This, in turn,leads to one of the most hilarious scenes of the show, as the gangsters each have to give their own examples of how they are whiter than white but can an old dog learn new tricks, or can a leopard change its spots, so to speak?!

Hugh Douglas, a regular of Largs Players in front of and behind the scenes, enjoyed some top quality lines as 'Big Jule's minder', and revelled in his role on his return to Largs Operatic after many years.

Special mention must also be made of veteran Bert Tait who played Arvide Abernathy, Sarah Brown's grandfather, and missionary assistant. The Bass Baritone from West Kilbride really added some old world charm to this hugely entertaining showcase. And another experienced Operatic star Jimmy Wilson played Big Jule, ably assisted and abetted by William Clark Ferguson, who plays Harry the Horse, as they battle for supremacy in the gambling headquarters which are quite literally underground - secretly down a manhole on the stage!

Mimi was played by another regular on the local stage, Ruth Donaldson, and Janine Millward was on top form as General Cartwright, and another Operatic regular Shelia Gullick played Agatha.

A real musical spectacle, Guys and Dolls is a production which has plenty of highlights and there were some superb solos including Karen Wilkin's 'Take Back Your Mink' to all the guys in unison singing 'Luck be a Lady' tonight, to a heart-rending 'Sue Me' by Karen Wilkin and Allan MacLean.

An action-packed drama which had laughter, insight and plenty of heart, Largs Operatic offered a finely balanced and evocative production which really pulled in all the acting and musical talents from the local community at large, providing a warm glow which lasted long into the night, despite the chilly temperatures outside. Indeed, it was right on the money!

The Hot Box Dolls were: Fiona Carruthers, Alice Donaldson, Ruth Donaldson, Eleanor Jarvie, Lynne McCabe, Megan McEleney, Laura Newton, and Jacqui Park.

The chorus include: Claire Delaney, Lynsey Ewing, Nan Fulton, Shelia Gilmour, Dot Gosling, Eila Handyside, Rachael Logan, Caroline Middleditch, Lyne McCabe, Gillian McCulloch, Margaret McDonald, Megan McEleny, Ann Randall, Elizabeth Robertson, Morag Robertson, Shirley Strange, Shelia Tennant, Jill Vines, Ben Gilmartin, Ian Macdonald, David McGarvey, Frazer MacPhail, Jim MacPhie, Willie Mullen, and Billy Weir.

Producer/Choreographer: Irene Cameron Musical Director: David Edwards Rehearsal Pianist David Edwards Band: Ryan Moir (keyboard), David Fisher (piano/bass), Billy Shaw (reed 1), Gillian McKane (reed 2), Heather McIntosh (reed 3), Ceri Haney (trumpet 1), Suzanne Thomson (trumpet 2), Adam Penketa (trombone). Callum Edwards (percussion) Prompt - May MacFarlane, Stage Director - David Page, Stage Manager - David MacDonald, Stage Crew - Kirsten Clements, Kathryn Burton, Emma Douglas, Rhona Douglas, George Donaldson, Harry Donaldson, Chris Richardson, Daniella McIntosh, Tim Vines, Alistair Archbold, Jon Wilkin.

Lighting - Stuart McKinnon, Spots - Neil Clements, Calum Little. Sound - Alan Beattie (Sono Vie), Wardobe Mistress - Ann Randall. Make up - Elizabeth Robertson, Rhona Douglas, Janine Millward.