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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Amything Goes
Barbican Theatre  Summer 2021

It difficult to resist the excitement of the musical Anything Goes, with its spectacular dance sequences, its fast screwball comedy banter and especially its memorable songs by Cole Porter.

No wonder the performance I attended had three standing ovations and was applauded so many times I began to wonder where the audience got the energy. And if all that activity wasn't enough, a group of women in the back seats began trying out some of the show’s dance moves as we left the theatre.

Anything Goes is a madcap story of a young Wall Street broker Billie Crocker (Samuel Edwards) hiding without a ticket aboard the ship SS American in romantic pursuit of Hope Harcourt ( Nicole-Lily Baisden) who is engaged to the English aristocrat Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Haydn Oakley).

Also on board in disguise is public enemy number 13, the gangster Moonface Martin (Robert Lindsay), who tries to help Billie by giving him the passport and ticket of the public enemy number one gangster Snake Eyes Johnson.

You’d have thought that might cause him a few problems with the crew but for the captain's desperate need to find a celebrity to impress the passengers.

Leading the cast is Sutton Foster as the one time evangelist Reno Sweeney, now a nightclub singer, a role for which she won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

The audience was so taken with her performance of Anything Goes and the jazz-influenced Blow Gabriel Blow I wouldn't have been surprised if they had joined her on the stage. However, the space was already filled with the impressive group dances choreographed by the director Kathleen Marshall.

The satiric romance, the strange array of characters, from the amiable Wall Street tycoon Elisha Whitney (Gary Wilmot) to the gangsters and the aristocrats, are a surreal echo of the peculiar time of its first performance in New York of 1934 when the wrecked economy of the American Depression made everything seem unreal, impermanent.

In the words of Cole Porter’s song 'The world has gone mad today, And good's bad today, And black's white today, And day's night today, And that gent today You gave a cent today Once had several chateaux..Anything Goes.’ 

Keith McKenna

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Review of  Anything Goes - Barbican Theatre 2021