REVIEW: ANYTHING GOES (The Barbican)

What do you get if you cross the musicals Guys and Dolls and Chicago? Well throw in a bunch of tap-dancing sailors and you get Anything Goes – the quintessential feel-good American musical.

First seen on Broadway in 1934, starring Ethel Merman, Anything Goes is one of Cole Porter’s greatest works, featuring the songs ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’, ‘You’re The Top’, ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’, ‘It’s De-Lovely’ and the show-stopping end of act one finale ‘Anything Goes’.

The S.S American has set sail to London but it is light on celebrity passengers and heavy with criminals. Guns, stowaways and soon-to-be wedded couples collide on the voyage, and by the time the ship docks in London, things look pretty different to when they set off.

Kerry Ellis cements her place as west-end royalty in the role of Reno Sweeney, showing not only does she have the vocals for Elphaba in Wicked but she can’t also tap dance for ten minutes and not appear out of breath (whilst singing).

Speaking of west-end royalty, Bonnie Langford stars as Evangeline Harcourt and is sublime as always. It’s a fairly small part for such a talented person and I imagine she could play the leading lady role in her sleep so it would have been nice to see her play a bigger part but she is a joy to watch in any production. Equally Simon Callow (Elisha J. Whitney) is joyous to watch, simply because he is a legendary actor and to have him grace the stage is an honor to witness.

Denis Lawson (Moonface Martin), Nicole-Lily Baisden (Hope Harcourt), Carly Mercedes Dyer (Erma) and Haydn Oakley (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) are all first class, as is the entire ensemble.

Anything Goes is a warm and light-hearted musical. It doesn’t require too much attention to follow and is a dreamy escape for a couple of hours with beautiful songs to soothe the soul. And right now, we could all use some of that!