Anything Goes In Wimbledon

Review: "80-year-old show hasn't lost ability to entertain"

There were certainly plenty 'glimpses of stocking' in last night's production of Anything Goes at the New Wimbledon theatre.

For a show now 80 years old, it has not lost its ability to entertain and, if the audience reaction was anything to go by, this is a very enjoyable and amusing show and definitely recommended.  The humour is, of course, backed up by some memorable and familiar songs from the repertoire of Cole Porter.

As we took our seats, we found ourselves in a night club being entertained by two of the musicians but soon after the story begins, we are transported to the SS American for a trans-Atlantic trip. I found the scenery quite unique having the backdrop as the deck of the ship but in the vertical plane. 

The main thread of the story is that Billy Crocker stows away on the ship in order to prevent the marriage of the woman he loves, Hope Harcourt, to Lord Oakleigh which seems to have been arranged by her mother Evangeline, who is desperate for Hope to 'marry into money'.  Club owner Reno who is in love with Billy, is also aboard the ship as well as a gangster, Moonface Martin and his companion, Erma and Billy's Wall Street boss, Elisha Whitney.

Including mistaken identities and unrequited love interests, the plot is quite farcical but, of course, everything works out perfectly in the end with almost everyone finding their ideal partner before the ship arrives at its destination.

Appropriately enough the show opened with 'I get a Kick out of You' (I resisted the temptation to say 'kicked off) but the two songs which stood out in Act 1 were 'You're the Top' and 'Anything Goes'; the latter ending the first act to rapturous applause due, in the main, to the showstopper tap routine.  

The choreography throughout was excellent and the dancers very slick and 'on point' and I was delighted to spot a little bit of syncopation during the final routine.

There was a clever 'dream' sequence around Billy and Hope involving some synchronised swimming supposedly in the liner's pool which was clearly a nod to the Busby Berkeley routines of that era.

Displaying her talent as well as her previous experience of West End productions, which have included Sister Act, Chicago and the Bodyguard, Debbie Kurup was wonderful in the role of Reno Sweeny but she was supported by a cast of very talented people in particular Alex Young who played an excellent Erma (and was also responsible for most of the stocking glimpses) and Stephen Matthew's Lord Evelyn Oakleigh showed a particular adeptness with a sword and a raised more than a few chortles in a particular scene when he was caught unawares in his underwear.

All in all an excellent production of a wonderful piece of musical theatre which has never really aged.

Anything Goes runs at New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday (February 7).

By Anne Horsburgh

February 4, 2015

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