Monday 23 March 2020
Review: Anything Goes
Cathy Clark from Photogroupie reviews our recent production of Anything Goes at Hertford Theatre.
Nearly a century after Anything Goes premiered, it's still a show that endures. Some of the jokes and references may not have transferred to a modern audience, but the feel-good factor of a Cole Porter musical transcends time.
The big-scale Hollywood style show is something Ware Operatic have not really ventured into before, but with the passion director and choreographer Angie Frost has for the show, the company was in safe hands.
The tale of Billy Crocker who stows aboard a cruise ship to try and win the heart of debutante Hope Harcourt is perhaps a classic theatrical trope of boy meets girl. But put into the mix a couple of fugitive gangsters and a racy nightclub singer and the entire S.S American becomes a romp of mistaken identity and subterfuge, where anything goes in the attempt to secure true love.
The ensemble cast has been stripped back compared to what it usually is, but then there is not a huge amount of choral work in the score. Having fewer people on stage gives more space for several of the show's big dance numbers, which are expertly choreographed. It's a pity that better use wasn't made of the top deck rostra for the dance sequences. I can only imagine that this was down to blocking and logistical reasons, but even so, it would have given some of the numbers a different dynamic.
Although we don't really get the mighty sound from the chorus on this show, there were some stellar performances from the principals. James Reynolds gives an understated performance as Billy, but when up against some larger than life female leads, this is a wise directorial move. Andrew Frost as bungling gangster Moonface Martin, demonstrates terrific comedic timing. Mick Wilson is a stalwart of Ware Operatic and is once again on form as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
Although the entire cast gave typically solid performances, there's no doubt that the girls stole the show. Emma Cash as Hope has elegance and poise during her scenes with Billy. Sadie Cole as Erma is superb in every way, adding the right amount of sass and sparkle. She only gets one number but, Buddie Beware is one of the show's highlights. The brassy role of Reno is the cornerstone of the show and is expertly played by Abigail Lowman. Abigail handles the show's big numbers Blow, Gabriel, Blow and Anything Goes, with ease and is a joy to watch perform.
Ware Operatic may have taken the plunge and put on a musical outside their comfort zone, but Anything Goes, once again proves their high standards and versatility as a company.