Cole Porter’s Anything Goes is a charmingly carefree musical based upon love and the upper societal life of the 1930’s. With the majority of the action based on the SS American, which the simplistic but stylised set conveyed excellently, the main characters are thrust together in a number of farcical situations which leave the audience amused, content and entertained. Although at times slightly culturally insensitive, Director Joe McNeice deserves praise for maintaining the integrity of the musical in the way it was originally intended to be viewed and performed, a piece from the 1930’s.
A large cast musical relies on its full company numbers to have impact, and that was certainly the case for Anything Goes. Although a little cramped at times because of the limited stage space at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, these gave a thoroughly enjoyable interlude through beautiful singing and tight dance routines compared with the intimate individual numbers. Chorographer Anna Hale should be commended for her diversity, as her numbers included all types of dance, from ballroom to tap and many more besides; the cast made these difficult and varied styles look effortless.
The three leading ladies all deserve credit for their performances. The beautifully sweet Hope Harcourt, played by Emma Wright, made an essentially simple character on paper blossom into a fully-fledged woman who moved you with her struggles. The charismatic Erma, played by Victoria Roffey, stunned everyone with her rendition of “Buddie, Beware” and her humorous one-liners. Em Barrett in the role of Rino Sweeny is able to take you on an emotional roller-coaster, whilst making you laugh and want to tag along for the ride. Her vocals were so versatile that she was able to attack each number with ease and precision, and all three are a joy to watch.
Unfortunately, the show was hindered slightly by aspects of the production as a whole; technical issues sometimes left audience members feeling distracted from the action upon stage. This was especially the case with clumsy moving spotlights being used throughout the show, as cast members were often left unlit during solo and duet pieces. Transitions were occasionally clumsy and slow, which took the audience out of the world that was being created by the cast. Nonetheless, these hiccups were dealt with professionally and smoothly by the cast and corrected where appropriate.
Ultimately, if an evening of light-hearted entertainment where the worries of the wider world can be forgotten is what you are after, Anything Goes is just that. With uplifting songs, moments of sheer hilarity and toe-tapping dances, it is sure to make you leave with a smile on your face.
Anything Goes by CHMS will be performed at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre from Thursday 16th February – 18th February. Tickets are limited (due to popularity!), but there are still a few left online.