Brett Herriot Review

Anything Goes, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Review:

“Sumptuous and Glorious, sparkling with joy!“

***** 5 Stars

Cole Porter’s classic musical is approaching its 88th year since its debut at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon) on Broadway in 1934 and holds a unique record of having four different librettos, the original 1934 version, the 1962 off Broadway revival, the 1987 revival libretto and the 2011 revival on which this production is based.

It is the critically acclaimed 2021 Barbican London production which has sailed into the Festival theatre for a limited run prior to the show returning to London’s west end later in the summer and this is truly a sumptuous and glorious production that sparkles with joy.

Telling the story of a voyage on the SS America in the mid 1930’s as the ship sails from New York to London we meet Business Mogul and millionaire Elisha Whitney (Clive Hayward stepping in for the indisposed Simon Callow) his assistant Billy Crocker (Samuel Edwards), Mother and Daughter Mrs Evangeline Harcourt and Hope Harcourt (Bonnie Langford and Nicole-Lily Baisden)Ship singer Reno Sweeny (Kerry Ellis) and criminal gangster Moonface Martin ( Denis Lawson) and a large ensemble who bring to life the many characters drawn together on the ship that see’s misunderstandings aplenty, love blossoming and truths being revealed. All this wrapped up in some of the best tunes in musical theatre its everything a classic musical should be and more.

Performances are universally excellent with Denis Lawson being the first of the stand outs; his comedy timing and characterisation are utterly faultless. The same is true of west end veteran Bonnie Langford who still Razzle dazzles and her energy floats across the foot lights. Kerry Ellis delivers in spades and shows her voice is up to the job and delivers a Reno that’s totally fresh yet every inch the classic 1930’s leading lady.

Director and Choreographer Kathleen Marshall has created a masterpiece on stage, blending the comedy with show stopping numbers and dance pieces are pure Busby Berkley  and receive sustain ovations from the rapt audience in the Festival theatre . Derek Lane’s set design was nominated for an Olivier award and rightly so it’s magnificent and lush, no expense has been spared and brings an epic cruise liner to live on stage including taking the audience inside the cabins which vary from the Brig to 1st Class. Jon Morrell’s costume design brings 1930’s flapper culture to life and makes the show sparkles almost as brightly as Hugh Vanstone’s lighting design that’s so opulent it knocks the eye out.

This production features a 15 strong orchestra under the baton of Musical Director Mark Aspinall which see’s classic songs “It’s De Lovely”, “Anything Goes” and “Blow, Gabriel Blow” amongst other sounding magnificent  and rich it’s impossible not to smile at the joy of seeing musical theatre on this scale done right.

Anything goes remains timeless and it’s easy to see why this most recent production wowed the west audiences as it’s just a fabulous production at heart, a set that’s sumptuous as it is unique, costumes to die for, performances that are stellar, dance that brings the house down truly everything that’s needed for a pure five star night of musical theatre.

Get to the Festival theatre before the SS America sets sail for London’s Barbican once more.

Anything Goes, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh runs until Sunday 15th May for tickets go to:


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