BWW Reviews: ANYTHING GOES, Crucible, Sheffield, 8 Dec 2014
The dominant word to define the Sheffield Theatres/Stage Entertainment production of Anything Goes has to be 'fun'. Everything - the choreography, performances, music, lighting, staging, design and direction - seems to be infused not only with a desire to ensure the audience have a good night, but with a sense that the cast and crew have had an absolute ball putting this show together.
It's the 80th anniversary of the Cole Porter musical and it is certainly not going timidly into old age - despite its period origins and setting, this production feels fresh, vibrant and urgent. OK, so the story is slight and the characters aren't exactly the height of sophistication, but it's the songs that have made this an enduring show, from 'De'Lovely' to 'I Get a Kick Out of You', 'Blow Gabriel Blow' and, of course, the title track.
Artistic Director Daniel Evans is on directorial duties as is customary for the Crucible Christmas musical. Like most Evans-helmed productions, the stage is constantly filled with action and the performance rockets by at a pace that never allows the audience to get bored. Choreographer Alistair David must have had the time of his life putting the routines together as they're some of the most energetic and exciting I've seen in this theatre, with the incredibly fast toe-tapping extended 'Anything Goes' at the end of act one a deserved show-stopper - I was breathless watching it so can't imagine how the cast managed it!
Likewise, designer Richard Kent and lighting designer Tim Mitchell have gone to town on the way the set looks - much of the action takes place on a spectacular rendering of the ship deck of SS America and lighting is used cleverly throughout to insert real energy, colour and vibrance. There is a live band throughout giving a real oomph to the material, which is performed with gusto by the cast.
Debbie Kurup steals the show as Reno Sweeney - not only a talented singer and dancer, she has a real gift for physical comedy. Matt Rawle makes a charismatic and cheeky Billy Crocker, whilst Zoe Rainey (Hope), Stephen Matthews (Evelyn), Hugh Sachs (Moonface) and Alex Young (Erma) make the most of their solos and ensure all the characters, however eccentric, sappy or crooked, endear themselves to the audience. The supporting cast are all excellent in their roles and the ensemble pieces are truly spectacular.
It's a show pretty much guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face, a hum on your lips and a twitch in your ankle trying to persuade you that you really must take up tap dancing.
Anything Goes is at the Crucible, Sheffield until 17 January and tours nationally during 2015.