COMPANY debutants Annabel Van Griethuysen and George Morgan are taking leading roles in York Light's first production of Guys And Dolls in 30 years from Wednesday to March 17.

Annabel plays the Salvation Army missionary Miss Sarah Brown and George stars as gambler Sky Masterson in Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows' American musical, directed by professional director and choreographer Martyn Knight at York Theatre Royal. Both are experienced players, having appeared in musicals elsewhere.

Based on two Damon Runyon short stories, The Idyll Of Miss Sarah Brown and Blood Pressure, and set in Runyon’s mythical New York City, the show is an "oddball romantic comedy" in which gambler Nathan Detroit tries to find the cash to set up the biggest crap game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, nightclub performer Adelaide, laments how they have been engaged for 14 years.

Nathan turns to fellow gambler Sky Masterson for the dough, and Masterson ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown as a result, as the musical travels from the heart of Times Square to the cafés of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually everyone ends up right where they belong.

Annabel, originally from Cambridge, has sung previously with the University of York societies, including the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, as well as "a few bits" for York Opera. "I've been singing since I was eight, and I'd already joined my first amateur dramatic society when I was six," she says.

"Both my parents were in Cambridge and Newmarket companies, and I just really fell in love with it and did drama all through my academic studies until my A-levels, as well as studying at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London at the weekends."

Her non-singing student days involved a degree in dietetics, the applied medicine of nutrition, followed by a masters in public health at the University of York. "I now work as a specialist mental health dietician with young people with eating disorders, in York and Scarborough, both bulimia and anorexia and ARFID, Avoidance and Resistance to Food Intake Disorder: people who might purge as well as starve themselves," says Annabel, whose professional name is Annabel Gipp.

She first came up to York when, having met husband (to be) Pierre Van Griethuysen in Cambridge, he did his undergrad studies in the city, and Annabel, like so many people before her, fell in love with York too.

George came from a creative background in Leyton, London, then lived in Kent before doing a degree in writing, directing and performing at the University of York from 2011 to 2014. "I went back to London, worked in and around London in events management, and did a masters degree in theatre, theory and performance through the University of East Anglia, and then came back up to north after landing a job in events at the University of York," he says.

"I wanted to get involved in performing shows in the city and when Guys And Dolls came up, I thought I'd give it a go and came out with the part of Sky Masterson."

Annabel and George, who now lives in Leeds, have enjoyed their first experience of working with Martyn Knight and York Light. "We've been completely welcomed in and I feel absolutely part of the society," says Annabel.

"The most wonderful thing is that we're working with singers as young as 17 and in their 70s too, so you're learning from people who've been doing it for 40 years or more," says George. "Martyn fosters a really good working atmosphere, where those who are less confident come out of their shells."

As for his role, "People always think of Sky as this cool character and there is that element to him, but he also hides a lot of himself; he doesn't give a lot away," says George. "He's a very hidden person but then finds himself drawn to Sarah and thinks, 'am I opening up?'.

"Looking at the era, there is this typical masculinity, but he has this hidden softie side to him, so he has the gangster facade but he's an utter charmer too."

Annabel looks beyond the usual portrait of Miss Sarah Brown. "She's often thought of as being straight-laced, quite hard and cold, but just listening to the songs, she has a passionate purpose about her; she cares about people around her and really believes in the Salvation Army cause," she says.

"By the end of the show, I think the women are running the show, so everything has been turned on its head!"

York Light presents Guys And Dolls, York Theatre Royal, March 7 to 17, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinées. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Did you know?

Annabel Van Griethuysen will be singing next in York Opera's Tales Of Love And Passion at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on May 16 and 17.