Anything Goes Review | Palace Theatre | Manchester
All the creature comforts are aboard the S.S.America, allowing audiences to be whisked away by P.G. Woodhouse and Guy Bolton’s whimsical musical at sea.
The wholesome 1934 comedy is back with a brand-new production that brings a gold standard of musical performances and swoon-worthy choreography to the Palace Theatre stage. We follow stockbroker and ladies’ man Billy (Samuel Edwards) as he ditches work to board a top tier cruise in the hopes of rekindling his relationship with debutante and soon be married Hope (Nicole-Lily Baisden). Between his friend, the love-struck nightclub singer Reno (Kerry Ellis) and his unsuspecting boss, played by Simon Calkow, Billy has enough storylines to keep track of. However, this quick-witted tale also follows a boatload of celebrities, freeloaders, gangsters, ministers and sailors.
The production sheds light into each cabin as Kathleen Marshall’s direction swiftly moves its compartments and crew on and off the stage whilst unravelling each tangled storyline. It’s a technical achievement that doesn’t hold back and brings in an alluring parade of backing dancers to command the stage alongside Reno’s musical performances. The updated production offers a bubbly comedy with a daisy chain of obligations and an incredibly large cast that overflow the show with fantastic one-liners and visual gags. Cole Porter’s soothing selection of classic songs flow through the easy-going musical but Marshall’s stunning choreography makes this production a firecracker of a show. The colourful expanse of its enormous ensemble resonates visually to the entire Palace Theatre audience, with its two-tier deck and magnetic cast putting you in a five minute, tap-dancing trance during a performance of the title song. The deluxe cruise also allows Sweeney to unleash all of her glamour whilst highlighting the power of the wonderful live orchestra with a nightclub performance and jazzy rendition of Blow, Gabriel, Blow. Sweeney is clearly doing the devil's work as the temptation to get up and dance throughout this carefully constructed musical is overpowering.
Its shimmering suited cast and tap-dancing talent include plenty of recognisable names, featuring Bonnie Langford and Denis Lawson, who brings boundless optimism to the role of killer Moonface Martin. The exuberant cast also help to capture the latent joy aboard a vessel full of disguises, tricks and lies.
Allowing audiences to take an abrupt trip from New York to London, Anything Goes is a show of real theatrics, but despite its over-the-top production value, the show still tells a down to earth story of love and the true madness it causes. The musical also adds many a meta-moment to solidify the classic with tongue-in-cheek fun. Offering a great escape with old-school comedy charm, Anything Goes is pure musical therapy. Its immense and glorious choreography takes centre stage and makes this production truly unforgettable.
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Tickets are available via the ATGLink