As part of our 'seeing-out' of the old year, my wife Jude & I spent the afternoon of New Year's Eve in the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield for Daniel Evans' latest musical creation, 'Anything Goes!' Over the last few years Evans has garnered much critical acclaim (and rightly so) for his winter musicals, and having greatly enjoyed his productions of 'Oliver!' and 'My Fair Lady', we went in great anticipation of another great show. We were not disappointed!
The show played to a more or less full house, and delighted with rousing renditions of some of Cole Porter's greatest hits - 'I Get a Kick Out of You', 'It's De-lovely', Blow, Gabriel, Blow', 'You're the Top' and of course 'Anything Goes!' - weaved together into a pretty contrived plot, it has to be said, involving gangsters, showgirls, stock brokers and an English lord among others, all taking place aboard 1930s cruise ship the SS America. That PG Wodehouse had a hand in the original story came as little surprise, though it bordered on Whitehall farce at times.
But this was, at heart, an all-singing, all-dancing celebration of some of the best music of its generation. The performances of the principals were exemplary, particularly Matt Rawle as Billy Crocker, hopelessly in love with Hope Harcourt, played by Zoe Rainey, who is engaged to the foppish, flirtatious and somewhat awkward Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, played with understated delight by Stephen Matthews. But the star of the show, and holding it all together, is Debbie Kurup as delicious, vampy showgirl Reno Sweeney, the real object of Lord Oakleigh's affections. She shines through the big numbers, singing with power and emotion, dancing with energy, and engaging the audience with her enormous personality.
Mention must be made of Alistair David's choreography which was at all times vibrant and evocative, even including a tribute to Busby Berkley at one point.
The show runs until 17th January in Sheffield, and then sets off on tour. If you get a chance, do get to see this show: it is truly de-lightful!