‘Anything Goes’ (Edinburgh Festival Theatre) | Review By Lewis C. Baird

‘Anything Goes’ has sailed into Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre till Sunday 15th May after a highly successful run in London’s West End last year. The story follows the S.S. American as she heads out to sea enroute to England, it seems that etiquette and convention head out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love… proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, a comical disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail.

Kerry Ellis is sensational as Reno Sweeney. Kerry’s portrayal of the sweet talker, Reno, is naturalistic, witty, sexy and sublime. What Kerry demonstrates is the epitome of a triple threat, with powerhouse vocals, incredible dance skill (the tap sequence in ‘Anything Goes’ is to die for) and a truly fabulous portrayal. Sutton who? Denis Lawson is hilarious as Moonface Martin, the quick paced and dry humour is delivered perfectly. Denis’ presence within this production is fantastic, the actor is comfortable and confident in the role, making the audience feel at ease. Not only that but he truly has them in the palm of his hand with the sheer likeability and comedy he brings to Moonface. Denis’ duet with Kerry’s Reno in ‘Friendship’ is a treat for the audience, such a delightful performance from two acclaimed performers. 

Samuel Edwards is magnificently charming as Billy Crocker; he brings a cheekiness to Billy along with clear desperation to spend his life with Hope. Nicole-Lily Baisden brings us a delightfully radiant portrayal of Hope Harcourt, Billy’s love interest. The two performers have a great chemistry, and it really shows during the number ‘It’s De-Lovely’, which is sang beautifully while the characters intimacy is shown through stunning choreography that both Samuel and Nicole-Lily perform splendidly.  

Clive Hayword is covering the role of Elisha J. Whitney for Simon Callow until Saturday. Clive’s physical humour and comic approach to this character was great, the grumpy old man was given a lot of heart by the actor. Especially when sharing the stage with Bonnie Langford’s Evangeline Harcourt, the two had a cookie dynamic which brought such energy and wackiness to the stage. Bonnie’s portrayal of Evangeline showed the stern side of Hope’s mother, while also giving a performance laced with comic nuances. Clive and Bonnie supply fantastic supporting performances in this joyful production. 

Comedically the standout in this production was without a doubt the marvelous Carly Mercedes Dyer. Carly’s portrayal of Erma was hysterical. Carly’s characterization of Erma just radiated humour, the New Yorker accent, physical quirks and ditsy personality all left the audience in hysterics. This was a fantastic performance, this production is privileged to have Carly reprise the role after she played Erma the original London production. 

Haydn Oakley was tofftastic as the farcically funny Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. This portrayal was outrageously funny and resembled Jacob Rees-Mogg if he was on holiday and perhaps also on cocaine. Haydn was fantastically funny as this character and did a grand job of bringing so much life to this supporting role. 

This production featured an ensemble which was bursting with character, energy, spectacular choreographical skill and lovely vocals. The ensemble in this production were as follows; Carl Au (Luke), Cornelius Clarke (Purser), Trev Neo (John), Billie Kay (Charity), Jessica Buckby (Virtue), Natalie Chua, Eamonn Cox (Sailor Quartet), Jacob Fisher (Sailor Quartet), Selina Hamilton (Purity), Maddie Harper, Eu Jin Hwang (Ship’s Captain), Sammy Kelly, David Kar-Hing Lee, Anna McGarahan, Perry O’Dea, Tom Partridge, Christopher Short (Sailor Quartet), Jack Wilcox (Sailor Quartet), Alexandria Wright (Chastity), Josh Barnett, George Beet, Gabrielle Cocca and Emily Ormiston.  

Kerry Ellis as Reno and Denis Lawson as Moonface (Photo – Marc Brenner)

Kathleen Marshall’s direction and choreography for Cole Porter’s iconic musical is vibrant, elegant, hilarious and endearing. Kathleen brings so much life into a musical that’s coming up for 90 years old. Thanks to her contemporary vision and stunning choreography, she has without a doubt produced the best version of this musical within our lifetime. With Derek McLane’s West End standard set design, you’ll be wondering how they hell they’re touring the mammoth glorious set that puts the audience on a luxury cruise liner. That paired with Hugh Vanstone’s dazzling lighting design and Jon Morrell’s gorgeous costume design, this production truly is a feast for the eyes. But don’t worry with Mark Aspinwall’s spellbound orchestra, you get a feast for the ears as well.

‘Anything Goes’ is the musical production of the year with a tremendous cast, stunning set, glorious costume and jaw dropping choreography, it hits all the marks. ‘Anything Goes’ will have you tap dancing out of the theatre begging for more, get your tickets now! 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Get your tickets for ‘Anything Goes’ at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre here:

https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/anything-goes

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