David Edgar reviews BOS Musical Theatre Group’s production of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, which runs nightly at 7.30pm until Saturday with an additional afternoon matinee on Saturday.
Last night I was transported back to the 1930s and to the glamour of an ocean liner, the SS American en route from New York to England, as BOS Musical Theatre Group presented their production of Anything Goes at Blackfriars Theatre.
The plot revolves around Billy Crocker (Rob Callaby) who has stowed away on the ship in an attempt to stop the girl he loves, debutante Hope Harcourt (Debbie Atkinson), from marrying her English fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Steven Bromby).
Simple enough plan? Well not quite as his boss Elisha Whitney (Jon Molson) is also on board pursuing Hope’s neurotic mother Evangeline (Pam Whalley) and believes that Billy is back at work in New York.
To avoid detection and get the girl, Billy is forced to adopt various disguises, and some underhand tactics, but is aided by Reno Sweeny (Katy Tabor), an old flame and the ship’s nightclub singer who is smitten by the English Lord, along with small-time gangster Moonface Martin (Richard Laight) and his ‘good-time girl’ companion Erma (Kim Sands).
Around all this, we have a Captain and crew desperate for some celebrity passengers, Reno’s flirtatious backing singers ‘The Angels’, and a couple of hapless Chinamen, so it was reasonable to expect an evening of hilarious chaos.
Thankfully this is exactly what was delivered in this delightful production. Great comedy, the fabulous songs of Cole Porter and some beautifully choreographed dance routines; this was first class travel all the way.
The story begins with the crazy collection of passengers being introduced to us as they board the ship, and the action rattles along apace as the complicated love lives and back stories of the principle characters unfold.
Act One which included “You’d Be So Easy to Love”, “You’re the Top”, and “It’s De-Lovely”, culminated with the wonderful “Anything Goes” sequence, led by Katy Tabor’s Reno, leaving the audience on a real high.
Did things let up after the interval? Not a bit of it, the great dance numbers just kept coming as the relationship intrigues of the passengers were resolved; Public Enemy Number One, Blow, Gabriel, Blow, Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye, and The Gypsy in Me, all stood out before the splendid finale I Get a Kick Out of You.
This was a production which lifted the spirits. There were strong performances from all the principle characters who told the highly entertaining story with skill, energy and enthusiasm, ably assisted by a great chorus.
Particular mentions must go to director Stuart Bull for bringing this together; his attention to detail, skilful use of the set, and for getting the very best out of every member of the cast, and of course, to the superb choreography of Abi Kingsley-Parker whose great dance routines were highlights of the show, all swept along beautifully by musical director Lynne Baker and her orchestra.
It is to be hoped that this fantastically feel good show gets the audiences that it deserves, and I would urge everyone to book a ticket aboard SS American and join BOS Musical Theatre Group in Cole Porter’s smash-hit musical “Anything Goes”.
Tickets to the show cost £12 (£10 conc).
To book call 01205 363108