Anything Goes – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Debbie Kurup (Reno Sweeney) and the Company of Anything Goes. Credit Johan Persson.jpg

Debbie Kurup in Anything Goes at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Picture: Johan Persson

Anything Goes continues at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield until 17 January 2015, after which the production will embark on a 32-venue tour in the UK until October 2015.

Following on from the success of his previous two Christmas productions My Fair Lady and Oliver!, Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans directs Cole Porter’s uplifting masterpiece of song, dance and romance and delivers yet another superb box office smash at the Crucible, featuring sensational songs including ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’ and ‘It’s De-Lovely’.

Modern day audiences will no doubt draw direct comparisons between the post-depression era of the 1930s portrayed by Porter some 80 years ago and the austere times we face today in post-recession Britain, but what the production actually delivers is hilarious high-jinks through turbulent seas and total escapism.

A stunning cast is led from the front by the superb triple threat that is Debbie Kurup as the cabaret queen Reno Sweeney. Kurup commands the stage with her forceful presence and powerful singing voice, but at times is equally adept at portraying Miss Sweeney’s vulnerable side, particularly when she is initially rejected by the loveable rogue Billy Crocker (Matt Rawle) in the opening scene.

When the Wall Street Broker and reformed lothario Billy Crocker discovers that his true heart’s desire, debutante heiress Hope Harcourt (Zoe Rainey), is engaged to an English aristocrat Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, he stows away aboard the S.S. American to win her back, aided by the string of eccentric passengers on board the luxurious transatlantic liner, including fellow stowaway and hapless gangster Moonface Martin aka ‘Public Enemy No 13’.

Moonface (Hugh Sachs) spends his time evading the authorities and shooting clay-pigeons with a Tommy gun stashed in his violin case, while lascivious gangster girl Erma (Alex Young) seduces almost all of the ship’s bell-bottomed sailors. Both provide laugh-out-loud comedic performances, notably Sachs’ rendition of ‘Be Like the Blue Bird’ in Act II.

As the transatlantic romantic comedy takes its course, Hope comes to realise she cannot in good conscience marry Lord Evelyn (Stephen Matthews) and he ultimately falls for showgirl Reno.

Matthews’ portrayal of Lord Evelyn is anything but stiff as he attempts to grapple with the American-slang and uses his flailing limbs and spindly frame to great comedic effect, as he bursts out of his shell, complete with socks and suspenders in ‘The Gypsy in Me’.

Anything Goes promises tap dancing sailors, sassy heroines and delivers the perfect antidote to the pre- or post-Christmas blues with its wonderfully upbeat showstopping tunes and Alistair David’s toe-tapping choreography. The big dance title number before the interval is worth the entrance fee alone.

 Peter Spencer


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