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Stuart King

Review: ANYTHING GOES at the Barbican

Anything Goes The Musical Cole Porter’s much beloved comedy-musical Anything Goes is playing to packed houses at the Barbican Theatre, with a cast of 50 delivering a much needed splash of nautical glamour and razzmatazz.

Broadway star Sutton Foster (who won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Reno Sweeney 10 years ago) has dusted-off her tap shoes and leads the company in the rousing, energetic, feel-good numbers. Meanwhile, British stalwarts Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot play the light comedy scenes with typical aplomb aboard ocean liner SS American.

As the New York to London crossing progresses, lovers swoon (then swap partners), priests are manhandled, villains are uncovered and even a dog takes a dip. It’s all fast paced, madcap mayhem and joyously underpinned by a score which contains classic numbers like You’re the Top, I Get A Kick Out of You, You’d Be So Easy to Love, Anything Goes and possibly the best Blow, Gabriel, Blow ever to grace a stage.

Kathleen Marshall’s directed and choreographed production uses Derek McLane’s flat-packed set and the dazzling 1930s period costumes conjured by Jon Morrell to good effect.

Gripes were few and fairly minor: Robert Lindsay’s Be Like the Bluebird barely flew, Nicole-Lily Baisden’s
overly earnest Hope Harcourt floundered in the romantic scenes and Samuel Edwards seemed entirely too swaggering to convince as the naively love-struck Billy Crocker.

On the flip side, Haydn Oakley gently pitched his turn as awkward aristocrat Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, thereby managing to avoid the usual pastiche pitfalls, whilst Carly Mercedes Dyer extracted the maximum sass and squawk as Erma -especially in her featured number Buddie, Beware.

The show’s slick delivery and irrepressible playfulness is guaranteed to bring cheering audiences to their feet at every performance.