Barbican Theatre – booking to 31 October 2021
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
A show that radiates joy from the second musical director Stephen Ridley dons his officers’ cap to conduct the overture, Anything Goes is escapist perfection.
The flimsiest of plots involving ridiculous disguises, mistaken identity, dubious celebrity worship and a good old honey trap ensure that true love wins for three seemingly mismatched couples as the SS American sails across the Atlantic. The humour is definitely in dad joke territory, but when the punchlines and visual gags come at this pace and are delivered with such skill, you can’t help but laugh.
Cole Porter’s glorious music never fails to transport an audience, whether it’s the romance of Easy To Love and It’s De-Lovely or the comedy of Friendship and You’re The Top and this cast elevates it even further. Director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall has provided some good old-fashioned song and dance that will take your breath away and gives the stars their chance to shine. Sutton Foster won a Tony portraying Reno Sweeney, and she’ll be odds on to win an Olivier with this performance. Foster knows she has the audience in the palm of her hands from her first entrance and tightens her grip as the show progresses and she gets to show her incredible range. She is generous and funny in the comedy duets and brings the house down with a barnstorming take on the two show stopping numbers. The audience were on their feet before the end of Anything Goes and were buzzing throughout the interval. The whole cast onstage nailing Marshall’s energetic and joyful choreography is a sight to behold. Blow, Gabriel, Blow builds slowly into an electrifying, hypnotic frenzy that is unforgettable.
Robert Lindsay brings effortless charisma to failed gangster Moonface Martin, revelling in any chance to dance and ad lib, and there is lots of fun to be had watching Gary Wilmot trying to woo Felicity Kendal. Samuel Edwards and Nicole-Lily Baisden are wonderful as Billy and Hope, and the hilarious Carly Mercedes Dyer and Haydn Oakley steal every scene they’re in as gangster’s moll Erma and eccentric Lord Evelyn. The main characters are all comedy gold, but the reactions of the rest of the cast to their shenanigans are very funny – especially Clive Hayward as the flustered captain and Graham MacDuff as the unflappable purser.
Anything Goes is the perfect package – a phenomenal cast giving a masterclass in musical theatre performing one of the most uplifting shows ever written – simply irresistible