The best-rated musical is back, and once again encompassing all the most incredible parts that theatre can offer. With a legendary cast and incomparable staging, Anything Goes is spectacular.
First shown in 1934, the expectation may be of a traditional piece, and while the score sometimes reflects this, there is no doubt that the production remains engaging for contemporary audiences. The humour displayed throughout plays a particular part in this, as it feels timeless and fitting. It follows the story of failed love affairs, with some bonkers methods of changing this course, all while being surrounded by whole cohort of sailors.
In a Manhattan bar, Elisha Whitney (played very comically by Simon Callow) is ordering Billy Crocker- an employee of his, taken on brilliantly by Samuel Edwards- to rearrange his finances. Shortly after this initial conversation, the stunning Rino Sweeney, played by the phenomenal Kerry Ellis, makes an entrance, and though opening the show by confessing her love during 'I Get a Kick Out of You', it is soon revealed that Billy's heart is elsewhere. Due to this, he forges his way onto the cruise liner where Hope Harcourt (gracefully played by Nicole-Lily Baisden) is residing, only to find bigger problems.
Despite being perhaps a little slow in areas, building the personalities of the characters is paramount for the plot. It is commendable to the piece for incorporating the ensemble parts into a variety of roles so each of the huge cast have their time. Additionally, it is evident that throughout, every single one of them embodies talent, in both expression and characterisation, and brilliant vocals all round. Bonnie Langford makes her iconic arrival as Hope's somewhat gullible mother, to finish the line up.
Ballads such as 'It's De-lovely' sung by Billy and Hope are beautifully portrayed, particularly in conjunction with the stunning lighting usage, designed by Hugh Vanstone. This is also further noteworthy during a contrasting track, 'Friendship', whereby Reno and Moonface Martin- arguably the funniest character in the show, played by Denis Lawson- fight over the spotlight, breaking the fourth wall in the process. Other memorable elements of the score include 'You're the Top', 'The Gypsy in Me', (whereby Haydn Oakley, as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh shows his unorthodox side) and 'Buddie, Beware' in that Carly Mercedes Dyer gets to demonstrate her tones that don't get enough credit under her mildly irking accent during the rest of the production.
'Anything Goes' is remarkable, and unlike any other moment on stage elsewhere. The choreography for all the pieces are fantastic, but Kathleen Marshall, who also gives direction, shows off her expertise by creating a masterpiece: nothing could top the voices and tap routine presented as an ending to act one, and you have to be in the room to experience it. The atmosphere remains when 'Blow, Gabriel, Blow' brings more amazement to the second act, though it is clear that the majority of the narrative does happen in the first.
The costumes, designed by Jon Morrell, consistently excel with attraction, alongside the set, by Derek McLane, which impressively keeps the show dynamic, while mostly being aboard the ship. Parts like the cabins are initiated well and look brilliant, in addition to the night club scene, and various others.
In all, Anything Goes is a top-tier production with few faults. Get yourself there- you wouldn't want to miss the boat!