Saturday, November 17, 2012

Anything Goes -Review- Lamplight Arts Centre, Stanley

Anything Goes
South Moor Musical Theatre Group
Lamplight Arts Centre
16th November 2012

"Anything Goes" is probably up there in my top five favourite musicals. This particular version has it all. Humour, romance, sophistication, and a generous helping of good old-fashioned innuendo that runs pretty much throughout. The story centres on ship stowaway Billy Crocker, a gangster in disguise Moonface Martin, and the sultry nightclub singer Reno Sweeney. Moonface Martin and Reno Sweeney conspire together to help Billy marry the girl of his dreams, Hope Harcourt, who at the start of the show is engaged to the awfully English gentleman, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh.

The cast worked very well together but at times there were signs of first night nerves. Some of the younger members of the chorus would do well to remember to smile more and interact with the rest of the cast. As the show progressed, it warmed up nicely. By the end of the first half, Reno Sweeney, played by the inimitable Lindsay Kellegher, had the audience wanting more as she and the rest of the company literally roared their way through a sassy rendition of  "Anything Goes". Billy Crocker was confidently played by local actor Andrew Howe, who gave a most enjoyable performance. This was no mean feat, especially when I learned after the show that he had been struck down with one of the early winter nasties for two weeks prior to opening night. The romantic role of Hope Harcourt was carried off to perfection by Holly McElhone, who sang beautifully and looked simply gorgeous in all of her scenes. Her husband to be, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh was played by Ian Mordue, a seasoned performer, who really took the part to his heart and did a brilliant job. His facial expressions had the audience in stitches and he looked genuinely terrified of Reno Sweeney in the "Let's Misbehave" song. 

Moonface Martin, who has some of the best lines in the show, was played to great applause by Nick Goddard. He sang brilliantly and had an accent that would have impressed many Americans. Indeed one of the many pleasures of this show was the fact that the main actors had perfected their accents. Rexine Perry played the part of Bonnie, and she lit up the stage at every entrance. Well done to her, lovely voice. Other notable parts were played to great effect, and these included Valerie Barnes as the bombastic Mrs Harcourt, Jim Arden as Elisha J Whitney, and a delightful performance from society stalwart Bill Readman as Bishop Henry T Dobson. Reno's "Angels" also did a great job. They sparkled every time they were on stage.

So many shows of late have left me cringing at some of the accents, but here, the diction of most of the cast was second to none. The sound quality was excellent, the orchestra superb, and the blend of the two harmonious. Well done to the sound team and musical director. The sets were colourful and well designed, although I did think that the lighting could have made more use of direct spotlights for some scenes. Of course no review can be complete without an honest gripe, and my only real one for this show was whilst the female actors mostly had wigs that looked great, why could some of the men not get fully into character by visiting the barbers before going on stage? I know times have changed and that in 2012 pretty much anything goes, but there are some standards I expect to see from a whole cast, and hairstyles to suit the period is one of them. But let's not forget, the audience had a great night out, and this wonderful musical was well and truly brought to life. Marks out of ten if had to? A definite 8. Well worth seeing. 
Anything Goes runs until Saturday 17th November

Noel Harris

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