It has been years since I saw an amateur production of this- so I was eager to see what it would be like when performed by the professionals at Liverpool Empire Theatre last night.
Anything Goes tells the story of Billy Croker who finds the love of his life in a taxi of all places; however Hope Harcourt is engaged to an English aristocrat, Lord Eveyln Oakleigh. The lord takes her onto the S.S. American in the hope of winning back her affections and to help her forget about the man she so quickly fell in love with in return. While on board they come into contact with some strange but loveable characters- all of which make up this eccentric cast.
The name is very appropriate, as you never know what to expect next with this production. It's script is unpredictable and the scenes unexpectedly move between dialogue, song and tap dance routines, all of which keep you on your toes as an observer. There were few songs that I recognised, however, De Lovely and Anything Goes are instantly addictive for those who are also unfamiliar with the music.
The set was cleverly designed to look like a ship on its end, which was used as a backdrop for a restaurant, a bar, a wedding, the ship's deck and even bedrooms. It was certainly versatile and with lighting that mimicked the rippling water of the ocean, it gave the impression you were on board a luxury liner with the other passengers.
Reno Sweeney who played Debbie Kurup was the standout performance for me- as she exuded confidence as the beautiful nightclub singer- her voice packed a punch and matched her character's determination and drive to get what she wanted.
Zoe Rainey's performance of Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye, as her character Hope settles for a life without her love, was quite simply exquisite and offered the audience a change in tone from the silliness and slapstick nature of the other scenes.
Stephen Matthews excelled in his performance as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in one of the latter scenes, when he sang The Gypsy in Me. Of all the attempts to make the audience laugh, I think this one was the most effective, as the character up until this point had been quite restrained.
The second half was certainly the better for me, as the first was more to set the scene, in the second we were treat to more of the tap dance routines and the humour came thick and fast.
I am certainly glad to have ticked this one off my list of shows to see in my lifetime. Anything Goes is camp, full of innocent humour and a well needed jaunt for a dull March evening.
Tagged in Liverpool Empire Theatre