It is a pleasure to see have the chance to review a traditional musical of the like that seem to be touring less and less in recent days. Anything Goes is a brilliant show that will entertain both seasoned theatre-goers and newcomers alike. The basic premise for those not in the know is a tale of good old fashioned love affairs, marriages and scandal, all in the midst of the glitz and glamour of a 1920s ocean liner. It was a nice touch to see the show open with live on-stage music being played by members of the band, in keeping with this era.
At the heart of the show is comedy, which is light-hearted and harmless – the characters are dripping with charisma. The cast deliver the gags with enthusiasm and, despite the unusually quiet audience on this particular night attended, didn’t let the atmosphere drop at any point. Specifically, the entirely comedy-central characters of ‘Moonface’ and ‘Evelyn’ (played by Hugh Sachs of Benidorm fame and Stephen Matthews respectively) were hilariously portrayed. They play their roles as exaggerated stereotypes of an American and Englishman, leading to some very entertaining misunderstandings.
The show is an all-round masterpiece. You’re treated to a feast for the ears and eyes with a vast, ornate set in differing scenes. The cast certainly make the most of this too, with some impressive acrobatics around the inside of the ship and within the musical numbers. A show that isn’t in-situ at a theatre very rarely has such a complex and fully-rounded feel to the production. It’s certainly all impressive enough a set-up to match any long-running West End offering. Attention to details such as dialect training which has given the performers an impeccably authentic accent of New Yorkers of the time gives it an edge of excellence.
One stand out contributor to the show who didn’t get a curtain call is choreographer, Alistair David. By far the discipline that this show mastered the best was the dance routines, which were vivacious, varied and incredibly jam-packed. Every number had its own distinct style, and the choreography was completely original. The tap numbers in particular were a spectacle to behold, and special mention must go to the chorus for these, whose synchronicity and exuberance were excellent throughout. Far from being repetitive, they were such a stand out to the show that you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next tap section – luckily, there are plenty.
The musical numbers are very well-known and jaunty as expected. By nature of the song-list, the first act is relatively easy-going vocally up until the Act One finale – the band had a tendency to over-power the performers sometimes – but this doesn’t last long as the old favourites come along, such as It’s De-Lovely and Anything Goes, which the cast truly shine in. The stand-out cast member vocally has to be Zoë Rainey (Hope Harcourt), who has an exceptional quality to her tone in her various numbers. The lead male Matt Rawle is a charming, loveable rogue as Billy Crocker. All of the named cast were excellent with no weak links, thoroughly enjoyable characters and that great supporting chorus – it’s a brilliant company.
It’s a little-known fact that music is most satisfying to hear when it is familiar, and this phenomenon certainly kicks in when Debbie Kurup (Reno Sweeney) belts out the toe-tapping title song with gusto. The cast take things up several notches, and from this point it never looks back. The top notes are hit deliciously at the climax of the number, and you’ll be left wanting to give an ovation – at only the mid-point. The aforementioned dance is at its absolute best here – when the wonderful lifts, floor routines and partner sections happen, you won’t believe there’s another huge dance break still to come.
It’s hard not to love this production. You’ll come out smiling – after enjoying some exceptional dance and quality performances – and wanting to take up tap lessons. The cast capture the Twenties charm perfectly. Traditional musicals to such a high standard as this don’t come round very often, so I urge you to go whilst still in London or on its upcoming nine-month tour.
Review by Ash Benzaiten
ANYTHING GOES, directed by Daniel Evans, features a script from legendary Jeeves & Wooster creator PG Wodehouse and includes the timeless Porter classics I Get A Kick Out of You, You’re the Top, It’s De-Lovely and, of course, Anything Goes, one of the most covered songs of all time. The show is a Sheffield Theatres and Stage Entertainment UK (previous credits include West End hits Hairspray, Sister Act and Singin’ in the Rain) co-production.
When Billy Crocker discovers that his heart’s desire, debutante heiress Hope Harcourt is engaged to an English aristocrat, he stows away aboard the S.S. American to win her back. Aided by a string of eccentric passengers on board the luxurious transatlantic liner, can this web of love be untangled before they reach Southampton? Hop aboard for sassy heroines, mischievous mob bosses, comedy capers and tap dancing sailors in this hilarious tale of romance and hi-jinks on the high seas
Leading the multi-talented cast of over twenty five, are Debbie Kurup as Reno Sweeney and Matt Rawle as Billy Crocker; with Simon Rouse as Elisha Whitney and Zoë Rainey as Hope Harcourt. From Thursday 29th January to Saturday 4th April 2015 they are joined by Hugh Sachs as Moonface Martin and Jane Wymark as Evangeline Harcourt; and from 6th April 2015 onwards, by Shaun Williamson as Moonface Martin and Kate Anthony as Evangeline Harcourt.
The company also includes Michelle Andrews, Adam Dutton, Anouska Eaton, Jack Evans, Bob Harms, Victoria Hinde, Lauren Jade, Rebecca Jayne-Davies, Joanna Lee Martin, Nick Len, Michael Lin, Dylan Mason, Stephen Matthews, Ryan Pidgen, Adam Rhys-Charles, Rohan Richards, Andy Yau and Alex Young.
Anything Goes UK Tour 2015
ANYTHING GOES has Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman. Originally produced by Lincoln Center Theatre, New York City. ANYTHING GOES is Directed by Daniel Evans, Designed by Richard Kent, Choreographed by Alistair David with Musical Supervision by Nigel Lilley. Lighting Design is by Tim Mitchell, Sound Design by Simon Baker with Musical Direction by Tom Brady
Director: Daniel Evans
Musical Director: Tom Brady
Choreographer: Alistair David
Produced By: Stage Entertainment and Sheffield Theatres
Main Cast: Debbie Kurup, Matt Rawle, Simon Rouse, Hugh Sachs, Jane Wymark, Stephen Matthews, Zoë Rainey, Alex Young
Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th February
The Churchill Theatre Bromley
Tuesday 24th February 2015