With music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a book by Guy Bolton, PG Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, the musical Anything Goes premiered on Broadway in 1934, and has been revived several times both in the UK and the USA. The 2011 Broadway revival went on to win 12 Tony Awards including Best Actress and Best Director.
2021 sees a limited run of Anything Goes performed at the London Barbican Theatre directed by multi award winner Kathleen Marshall with an revised book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. This musical farce is set aboard the ocean Liner SS America bound from New York to London. The plot tells of Billy Crocker who has stowed away on the liner as he is in love with Hope Harcourt who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh and travelling aboard the SS America. Fellow passengers’ gangster public enemy number 13 “Moonface” Martin and night club singer Reno Sweeney help Billy to win the love of Hope.
Hugh Vanstone’s lighting creates the perfect moonlit romantic skies and spectacular sunsets. Derek McLane’s set of several decks and art deco interiors combine perfectly with Jon Morrell’s striking luxurious outfits, which transports the viewer effectively into the glamorous world of the 1930s. Kathleen Marshall’s choreography is delivered in a spectacular manner by the extremely talented cast. The tap dancing numbers, particularly the title number Anything Goes was just marvellous to watch.
There is good chemistry between Samuel Edwards as Billy Crocker and Nicole-Lily Baisden as Hope Harcourt. There are classic comedic performances by Gary Wilmot as Elisha Whitney and Felicity Kendall (Mrs Harcourt) delivered with the perfect snap and comedic timing.
I have been a fan of Robert Lindsay since he appeared on our television screens as Citizen Smith in the 1970s. I have never seen him perform on stage and I was not disappointed. He is perfectly cast as “Moonface” Martin; playing the character with perfect comedic timing matched by the very talented Carly Mercedes Dyer as the gangster moll Erma.
Making her UK debut, Sutton Foster revives her 2011 Tony winning role as Reno Sweeney. Her strong vocals combined with difficult tap-dancing routines which were delivered effortlessly, results in one of the best performances by an actress I have seen in a musical theatre production.
Full of classic Cole Porter songs, a romping fluffy plot, and memorable performances; Anything Goes was our perfect post lockdown return to the world of London theatre, which we have really missed.
Anything Goes is at the Barbican theatre until 31st October 2021.
Theatretastic rating 5/5
We say: “Full of classic Cole Porter songs, a romping fluffy plot, and memorable performances; Anything Goes was our perfect post lockdown return to the world of London theatre, which we have really missed.”