ANYTHING GOES – Upstairs at the Gatehouse

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

★★

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London – until 29 January 2017

In quite possibly the finest musical to have been staged at The Gatehouse in recent years, John Plews and his cracking company deliver musical theatre magic in their ambitious staging of Cole Porter’s most famous show, Anything Goes.

Get all social media for ANYTHING GOES & its cast on www.stagefaves.com

Get all social media for ANYTHING GOES & its cast on www.stagefaves.com

The design is imaginative. Ocean-liner themed throughout, including railings around the two traverse banks of seats with the neat touch of cruise-ship views and movies discreetly projected above the compact performance space that only enhances the illusion.

Of course the show is adorned with toe-tapping classic numbers and Plews has cast his company magnificently – with each song done to a turn. Making her UK debut (though with an impressive southern hemisphere CV) Taryn Erickson sizzles as Reno Sweeney. Capturing the essence of Sweeney’s ballsy chanteuse Erickson makes the timeless solos her own. Jack McCann’s Billy Crocker captures the madcap requirements of his character with a perfect voice and presence.

Samantha Dorsey’s Hope Harcourt truly is de-lightful. Her character is one of the few roles that is to be played consistently straight and humour-free. Dorsey brings flawless acting and vocals to capture Hopes complex, lapsed chastity.
Where this production really shines however is in the performing detail that Plews has coaxed from the entire cast. Cole Porter’s wit is acerbic and finely honed, ranging from bawdiness and sarcasm, through to the driest of droll put-downs and his words demand to be spoken or sung with carefully weighted wit.

This Highgate company deliver them to perfection, notably Jack Keane’s Sir Evelyn Oakleigh who captures the idiotic buffoonery of an aristocratic English twit (his garters, a fantastic touch) with pinpoint perfection. A good comedy performance is one of the toughest challenges on stage and Keane plays his man to a tee. My only regret in Plews’ show is that he has chosen the 1962 off-Broadway revival which omits Sir Evelyn singing The Gypsy In Me – perhaps one of the funniest songs in the canon. Alongside Keane, David Pendlebury’s Moonface Martin is another comic treat.
Dan Glover’s 6 piece band are polished, while Chris Whittaker’s imaginative and energetic choreography again squeezes breathtaking routines (including some awesome tap) into the venue’s traverse space.
This is unquestionably the best off West End musical around this Christmas – and at around £18 a pop when it comes to value for money, Anything Goes is the best show in town!

Runs to 29th January 2017
Photo credit: Darren Bell

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Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on RssJonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.

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