Sunday, 31 May 2015

Anything Goes REVIEW, May 31, 2015 ****

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter
Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse
New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman 
Produced by John Frost & Opera Australia 
Princess Theatre, from May 31, 2015
Brisbane from July 28 & Sydney from Sept 8
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sunday, May 31, 2015
Stars: ****
Review also in Herald Sun NEWS  & Arts Online on Mon June 1, 2015. KH
Pic by Joe Calleri

Cole Porter’s 1934 musical, Anything Goes, is a deliciously effervescent soda pop laced with a sharp shot of bourbon.

Caroline O’Connor is the big fizz in this production, bringing her formidable singin’ and dancin’ talent and idiosyncratic characterisation to the role of Reno Sweeney, a vivacious club singer who moonlights as a dodgy but sexy evangelist.

Dean Bryant’s stylish production, with exuberant choreography by Andrew Hallsworth, features a chorus of sassy showgirls and tap-dancing sailors on board the S.S. American en route from New York to England.

Porter’s incomparably witty lyrics, cunning rhymes and singable melodies bring to life this tale of unrequited love, mistaken identities, screwball comedy and happy endings – the perfect antidote to the blues of Depression Era America.

Goofy gags come thick and fast accompanied by racy dialogue peppered with innuendo, loose morals, hard drinking, religious satire and unashamed racial stereotypes.

O’Connor delivers I Get A Kick Out Of You with impeccable timing, vocal quality and detail in her performance of both lyrics and tune, then combines pretty tones and boldly belting notes in You’re The Top, her peppy duet with Alex Rathgeber.

After an audacious, almost blasphemous version of Blow, Gabriel, Blow, O’Connor and the dynamic chorus lift the roof with the impudent crowd-pleaser, Anything Goes, that boasts an arduous and percussive, 7-minute tap routine at the close of Act One.

Rathgeber’s charming presence and bright vocal tone are ideal for young stockbroker, Billy Crocker, the lovelorn stowaway who disguises himself as Public Enemy Number One to avoid discovery.

Meanwhile, he pursues the heart and hand of debutante, Hope Harcourt, played with restraint and a sweet voice by Claire Lyon.

Wayne Scott Kermond as gangster-on-the-run, Moonface Martin, almost steals scenes with his rubbery physique and clown antics, and his Vaudevillian-style duet with O’Connor, Friendship, is a comic and musical highlight.

Todd McKenney is delightfully foppish as upper class, British twit, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, relentlessly milking gags until they are dry.

Meanwhile Bartholomew John is entertainingly gruff and sozzled as Elisha Whitney, a wealthy, drunken stockbroker who chases old flame, Evangeline Harcourt (Carmen Duncan), Hope’s grasping mother.

Debora Krizak is comically seductive as Erma, the gangster moll, and Gerry Connolly is the blundering and very camp Captain who parades gangsters before his socialite passengers to appease their rapacious desire for on board celebrities.

There are some scene crosses in Act One that need tightening and occasional dialogue that is too slowly cued, but Anything Goes, despite being over 80-years old, is still De-lightful, De-licious and De-Lovely.

By Kate Herbert

 Pic by Joe Calleri

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