Toyan Thomas-Browne performs in UK's first all-black 'Guys and Dolls'
In October 2017, it was announced that the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester would present the UK’s first all-black production of the classic American musical, Guys and Dolls with London Studio Centre alumni Toyan Thomas-Browne in the role of Moe.
In his third year at London Studio Centre, Toyan was a member of the music theatre company, Seedtime, and impressed audiences at the end of year performances with his renditions of Not My Father’s Son from Kinky Boots and Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me, Kate.
After graduating, Toyan had a busy 2016, performing in the ensembles for We Will Rock You and That Man at the London Hippodrome. That same year he performed with the Pet Shop Boys at their Inner Sanctum concerts at the Royal Opera House where Becky Howell (LSC alumna and now teacher) was assisting with choreography. Towards the end of the year, Toyan joined the ensemble for Christmas on Ice at Canada's largest gaming resort, the Fallsview Casino.
Toyan getting into his Caterpillar costume for Wonderland
In 2017, Toyan was cast in the original UK tour of Wonderland, Frank Wildhorn’s Tony Award-nominated musical based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Performing alongside Wendi Peters (Queen of Hearts), Toyan was a member of the ensemble and first cover for the Caterpillar. He debuted his sassy and humerous take on the Caterpillar at New Wimbledon Theatre, where he had previously performed in London Studio Centre’s Dance Overture.
Toyan as Moe in Guys and Dolls
Following the Wonderland Tour, Toyan performed in a one-off concert of new musical The Prince at the Arts Theatre before joining Guys and Dolls which opened at the Royal Exchange Theatre on the 2nd December. Whilst it isn’t the world’s first all-black production of the musical (a previous production played Broadway in 1976), director Michael Buffong’s bold casting decision comes at a time when representation and casting are hot topics in the world of music theatre. By transporting the musical from glitzy 1950’s New York City to pre-war Harlem, Buffong explores the African American culture of the time and features hip-hop inspired choreography by Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy (who choreographed the powerful Death of a Dynasty for Jazz Dance Company’s 2017 Dynasties tour). Buffong explained that Harlem in the 1930s was “all about the hustle” and that the creativity of the era inspired much of today’s popular dance and music.
Prince Edward and the cast of Guys and Dolls
The show has enjoyed a great extended run including a special 40th Anniversary performance for the Royal Exchange where Toyan and the cast performed for Prince Edward. The show also received fantastic reviews with the Guardian claiming the new context gives Guys and Doll “an extra jazzy swing in its step and more grit to its characters”, whilst the Express called it a “smart production with a talented cast” – a brilliant accolade for Toyan! We can't wait to see what he does next!