Above: Flappers do the Charleston. Below right: Ian Maurice as Moonface Martin and Jarryd Pianca as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Directed by Michael Skelton
Beenleigh Theatre Group
Crete Street Theatre
Season: 10-25 November 2017. http://beenleightheatregroup.com/booking or 07 3807 3922
Anything Goes is set in the Roaring Twenties on board a cruise ship heading to England from America. It tells the story of an unlikely bunch of passengers and their romantic liaisons and antics — Reno Sweeney, the onboard entertainer, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh and his fiancé, Hope Harcourt, Billy Crocker (who is in love with Hope and isn’t supposed to be on board), Elisha Whitney (Billy’s boss), Moonface Martin (public enemy number 13) and his partner in crime, Erma Latour, who are on the run from the law.
Reno Sweeney was played by Joanna Nash, and she was the lead in all ways – her acting, dancing prowess, and her amazingly powerful voice, which came to the fore in the musical number, Blow, Gabriel Blow (my favourite). Joanna was the personification of the vivacious lounge entertainer, Reno – a great performance.
Joanna was ably assisted by Lauren Conway as Hope Harcourt, James Rogers as Billy Crocker, Ian Maurice as Moonface Martin, Jarryd Pianca as Lord Evelyn Oakley, Carly Skelton as Erma Latour, Lachlan Clark as Elisha Whitney and Sophia Dimopoulous as Evangeline Harcourt (Hope’s sister).
My favourites out of these talented people were Jarryd Pianca and Ian Maurice. Pianca played the silly, English lord to a tee and the surprise was his song in the second half The Gypsy in Me where he told Reno his family’s deepest darkest secret.
Having only heard him speak up to this point, I wasn’t expecting his singing to be so good.
And the character of Moonface was absolutely delightful as well – he was supposed to be a hardened criminal, but we find out that he has a soft side when he sings Be Like the Bluebird. Carly Skelton was also very good as Moonface’s sidekick, Erma Latour.
The choreography by Shelly Scott, enhanced all the musical numbers. It was great to see so many tap numbers incorporated into the show – this one lends itself to that with the great songs anyway. I particularly enjoyed the choreography for The Gypsy in Me, which is quirky and funny.
The costumes were wonderful and hats off to the costume design and construction team – they captured the flapper decade to a tee with a bit of extra cheekiness added in for the ‘angels’. The vibrant colours, the flowing frocks, the sailor inspired outfits, the feathers, fringes, and the hairstyles all made the show a visual spectacle. Reno’s wardrobe was marvellous and varied and I loved her bob.
The set was kept remarkably simple with three pieces joined together along the back of the stage, which resembled part of a ship with portholes and a central door. The two side pieces swivelled to become the background for two rooms, with the door being used for both rooms.
A bed, table, chairs, sofa, and drink sideboard were added to complete the scene. Other props and the larger scenery items were seamlessly whisked on and off by the cast throughout. The only thing that let the stage down a bit was the lighting. There were times when lead cast members’ faces were in shadow. This was particularly noticeable in Blow, Gabriel Blow, when Reno is lifted up, and at the beginning of the show when she goes to the table at front stage left.
A live orchestra of keyboard, drums, bass guitar, sax, clarinet, trumpet and trombone brought each musical number to life and the instrumental mix was just perfect for this show.
The Director, Michael Skelton; Assistant Director, Katya Bryant; Musical Director, Christine Leah and the whole cast and crew have done a stupendous job of bringing Cole Porter’s Anything Goes to the stage. While Porter wrote this to be a much-needed tonic during the Great Depression years, it is still a fantastically fun show to be in and watch, all these decades on.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I had been really looking forward to seeing it, as I had been in this one myself, back in the day, as one of the angels. My toes were tapping as soon as the overture began. It was also interesting to see the differences between the two versions – the overall story remains the same, but there was better use of the four angels and more tap dancing in BTG’s version. And, of course, the show wouldn’t be the same without the four-legged cast member – Ernie Brewster who played Cheeky the Dog.
Anything Goes is delightful, delicious and de-lovely.
Joanna Nash who plays the lead Reno Sweeney