A new production of Anything Goes is stylish, energetic and a whole lot of fun.
Days after the show premiered at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre I am still smiling thinking about some of the lines, the dancing – especially the big production numbers – and the energy levels of the cast. Sure, many of the jokes are lame and the acting is often over the top, but that’s what has made Anything Goes such a hit since it first premiered in the 1930s.
This new production is a joint effort between Opera Australia and John Frost (one of country’s best known theatre producers). As you would expect with two such organisations involved the singing is great, the on-stage band excellent, the costumes stylish and the choreography stunning. There’s also that touch of pizzazz that’s the hallmark of musical theatre.
Combine this with a musical score which includes some of Col Porter’s best known hits such as It’s De Lovely, I Get A Kick Out Of You, You’re The Top and Anything Goes as well as some of Australia’s best known performers and it’s easy understand why this production is so good.
Anything Goes tells of the antics of passengers aboard the SS American as it sails from New York to London. Passengers include Reno Sweeney (Caroline O’Connor) a night club singer in love with Billy (Alex Rathgeber) a young trader just making his way on Wall Street. Billy is in love with heiress Hope Harcourt (Claire Lyon) and when he discovers she is also on the ship with her fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Todd McKenney) he decides to stow away. Hope is travelling with Evangeline Harcourt (Carmen Duncan) her haughty and overbearing mother, who meets up with a past love, Ivy league Wall Street banker Elisha J. Whitney (Bartholomew John).
Also on-board are Moonface Martin (Wayne Scott Kermond), a second-rate gangster who is `Public Enemy Number 13’, disguised as a priest and Erma(Debora Krizak) his blond moll sidekick. Luke (Aljin Abella) and John (Nicholas Kong) are two young Chinese men who are meant to have converted to Christianity. And finally, there is the Captain of the S.S. American (Gerry Connolly) who is in search of `celebrities’ on the ship. Needless to say there’s lots of skulduggery, including a touch of blackmail and finally love all around.
This is one of those productions where there really isn’t a weak link – all cast members play their roles brilliantly. But there are a couple of standout scenes – including all those which feature Caroline O’Connor! Her energy levels, voice and dancing skills are truly amazing. Her scenes with Wayne Scott Kermond are also very funny. You do get the feeling they are also enjoying themselves.
The big ticket numbers featuring all cast members and long tap dancing routines are also show stoppers. But then again so is the whole show!
Anything Goes is playing at Princess Theatre until July 19. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster. Or call 1300 111 011
It then moves to Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre, opening on July 25 and Sydney’s Opera House where it opens on September 5.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Anything Goes on May 31 as a guest of Opera Australia and The Gordon Frost Organisation.