★★★★★ | Anything Goes – Sheffield Crucible Theatre and National Tour
It’s all aboard for high camp on the high seas, as the SS American sets sail from New York to Southampton and Billy Crocker stows away on board to chase the love of his life, Hope Harcourt. When he discovers that Hope is due to marry hapless fop, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Billy teams up with a gangster, Moonface Martin, Erma, the Gangster’s Moll; and a sassy lounge singer, Reno Sweeny, in an attempt to win her hand. But can Billy avoid the sailors hunting the stowaway, get away with a number of dubious disguises, avoid his unsuspecting boss and get Hope to agree to marry him before the ship docks in Southampton?
Featuring the songs “I Get a Kick out Of You”; “You’re The Top”; “De-Lovely”, and “Anything Goes”, this 1930’s set musical comedy, which was written 80 years ago, is still an utterly joyous delight. The story has everything you could want from a whimsical musical – a will they/won’t they love story, a genuinely funny, laugh out loud script, some subtle slapstick and elements of farce, mistaken identity, disguises of varying quality, feisty heroines and, of course, a delightful and timeless score and songs which make it impossible for you to resist tapping your feet.
This art deco tinged production is packed with well-timed comedy, spectacularly choreographed set pieces, good vocal performances and an uplifting sense of fun which proves utterly irresistible. Stephen Matthews delights as the naïve, bumbling toff, Lord Oakleigh, who is bursting with a dark family secret. Hugh Sachs (from TV’s Benidorm) shows his comedic talent as Moonface Martin, in a performance which is reminiscent of Nathan Lane in The Producers; and Debbie Kurup was a sassy bundle of energy in her performance as Reno Sweeney, heading up the tap dancing, show-stopping denouement to the first act and a lively and vivacious opening to the second act.
The show is well directed and choreographed and is brimming with such energy and you can’t help but get swept along by it. This production is a welcome and well-timed revival of a criminally underperformed show, which has a surprising number of parallels between the 1930s and modern day, in terms of the economy and the public’s interest in celebrity. But the rapturous standing ovation and the number of people singing, tap dancing and laughing as they left the theatre is the most accurate measure of the success of the show.
Sheffield Theatres annual Christmas musical is rapidly garnering a national reputation as one of the most hotly anticipated theatrical events, and after their award-winning productions of My Fair lady and Oliver! over the last two years, Anything Goes continues the trend.
Anything Goes is playing at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre until the 17th January 2015, before embarking on a national tour covering a total of 30 venues up and down the country between now and October 2015. Visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk and http://anythinggoestour.com for information, tickets and tour details.
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.