Originally titled ‘Bon Voyage’ (changing its name just before opening due to sensitivity around a recent ship which caught fire and killed 137 people in America) ‘Anything Goes‘ opened on Broadway in 1937 and quickly became one of Cole Porter‘s most well loved musical stage shows.
The show is back in London for the first time in nearly twenty years at the beautiful Barbican Theatre (now playing until 31 October) featuring the hit songs ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’, ‘You’re The Top’, ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ and of course the show stopping act one finale, ‘Anything Goes’.
There isn’t much to the story, so it’s easy to watch. A ship sets sail from New York, bound for London but with more passengers than it bargained for. Billy Crocker has snuck onboard to publicly declare his love to Hope Harcourt but the two are from very different classes and her fiancé (who is travelling with her) is another barrier he will need to get over to win her love. Billy meets cabaret singer Reno Sweeney and gangster Moonface Martin who help hatch a plan to get Hope into his arms. Throw in some gambling, guns and dancing sailors and you’ve pretty much got the show in a nut shell.
Musical Theatre legend Sutton Foster reprises her role of Reno Sweeney from the 2011 Broadway production and steals the show in every way. The end of act one finale, a huge tap number with her at the helm got a necessary standing ovation, singing and dancing her way through the mesmerising ‘Anything Goes’ – the show is worth the ticket price alone just to see that and is one of the greatest ends to an act I have ever seen.
The rest of the star-studded cast all do a fine job. Robert Lindsay is great at playing gangster Moonface Martin, a similar character to the one he played in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and he suits the part well. Felicity Kendal is fun to watch as Hope’s mother Evangeline and really knows how to accessorise a life jacket! Gary Wilmot is always a joy to watch on stage, he oozes charm and charisma and this role is no exception.
Samuel Edwards (Billy Crocker), Nicole-Lily Baisden (Hope), Carly Mercedes Dyer (Erma) and Hayden Oakley (Evelyn Oakleigh) all deliver wonderful performances, as do the entire cast.
Anything Goes is a must see spectacle. Whilst there isn’t a lot to the story, there is a huge amount of visual entertainment and vibrant performances.
Reviewed by West End Wilma