Barbican Theatre, London – until 6 November 2021
Cole Porter’s Anything Goes is a ridiculous – and ridiculously enjoyable – show which boasts the finest score in musicals. As soon as the title number’s patter chorus kicks in, there’s a smile on every face.
If there’s anything we need now, after months sequestered from live entertainment, it’s Anything Goes. The production now playing at the Barbican comes with a heavy dose of Broadway glitter, courtesy of veteran director Kathleen Marshall. Broadway’s Rachel York (now taken over from Sutton Foster) leads the cast as Reno Sweeney, and there’s an impressive supporting cast of British heavyweights.
Gary Wilmot, as big businessman Elisha J Whitney, has a limited part but uses his stage time expertly with an enjoyable over-the-top performance. Ahead of him, already over the top and racing across no man’s land is Robert Lindsay, whose middle-ranking gangster, Moonface Martin, is sublimely ridiculous. And Felicity Kendal’s dotty Evangeline Harcourt wields a small dog with aplomb.
Elsewhere, Samuel Edwards as Billy Crocker is charming, Carly Mercedes Dyer gets a lot of laughs as the sex-obsessed Erma, and Nicole-Lily Baisden’s stage debut as Hope reveals a lovely voice and plenty of stage presence.
There are many more reasons to see the show too, not least the costumes, which are lavish, the choreography, which is all-conquering, and the songs, which are unmatched. The plot is extremely silly, but its satire of a celebrity-obsessed culture is surprisingly current, even if the lyrics reference people long-forgotten. This doesn’t matter in the slightest when the numbers include ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re The Top’ and ‘It’s De-Lovely’.