Last Updated on 6 August 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team
Mark Ludmon reviews Anything Goes at London’s Barbican Theatre with Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot
Barbican Theatre, London
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With a shelf load of trophies including three Tony Awards, expectations were high for the London production of the 2011 Broadway hit Anything Goes. Fortunately, those expectations have been met – and exceeded. With a fantastic cast, a soaring score and stunning choreography, it is filled with joy, laughter and lots of energy to restore spirits and put a smile on your face.
Originally staged on Broadway in 1934 with a book by Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse, the musical was heavily rewritten by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse for its 1987 revival. Under director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, the story itself – about farcical goings-on aboard an ocean liner sailing from New York to London – is full of delight, and the London cast ensure no opportunities for a laugh are lost. With Robert Lindsay as gangster Moonface Martin, Felicity Kendal as impoverished socialite Mrs Evangeline Harcourt and Gary Wilmot as Wall Street financier Elisha Whitney, the comedy credentials are high, while Carly Mercedes Dyer is very funny as man-eater Erma and Haydn Oakley is hilarious as diffident English lord, Evelyn Oakleigh.
And then there’s Sutton Foster who stepped in to replace an injured Megan Mullally as club singer Reno Sweeney. Ten years on from her Tony-winning performance in Marshall’s Broadway production, her Reno still shines, bringing wit and charm to complement her superlative voice and dance skills. Along with the show’s talented ensemble, she particularly wows in the jaw-dropping choreography of the title song, “Anything Goes”, with its tap-dancing sailors, and the sinfully good “Blow, Gabriel, Blow”, making full use of Derek McLane’s striking set. Samuel Edwards is impressive as Billy Crocker, the broke broker hopelessly in love with Hope, Mrs Harcourt’s debutante daughter – sweetly played by Nicole-Lily Baisden.
Porter’s songs fizz with freshness and life, bringing out all their humour and romance, with musical direction by Stephen Ridley and orchestrations by Michael Gibson and Bill Elliott. There are many highlights, such as Billy and Reno’s “You’re the Top”, Moonface and Reno’s “Friendship”, Evelyn and Reno’s “The Gypsy in Me” and Erma’s saucy “Buddie, Beware”. While Foster does feature in a lot of the best numbers, it is the whole talented ensemble working together that makes Anything Goes such a joy.
Running to 31 October 2021.