This was a rollicking, fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining revival of Cole Porter’s delightful 1930s musical. Director Michael Butler and MD Mark Stefanoff created a light and breezy mood and the cast and orchestra sustained that through to the end.
Mainly set on board a trans-Atlantic steamer, and with a highly improbable and light-hearted story line, Porter’s lush music carried the audience along very nicely. However, some of the major highlights came from Rosanna Commisso’s inventive choreography. Fortunately the cast members were up to the challenges. Among the many fine examples was the sustained tap-dance spectacular at the end of Act 1. To the uninitiated, tap can sometimes be repetitive but here it was varied, flamboyant and precise.
Alana Shepherdson was stunning as Reno Sweeney. She played the saucy role with authority, authenticity and style. At times she evoked the spirit of the role’s initiator, Ethel Merman, not only when belting out the big songs in the first Act, culminating in the spectacular finale, Anything Goes. She was equally convincing in the quieter moments, too, such as in the early parts of I Get A Kick Out Of You. Her dancing, too, was exceptional, showing her strong credentials in that area.
Will Richards was a success as Billy Crocker. He danced stylishly, captured the vulnerability of the character and used his clear baritone to especially good effect in the duets: You’re The Top, with Reno, and It’s De-Lovely, with Maya Miller as his love interest, Hope Harcourt.
Miller was sincere and self-effacing in her role, providing a good contrast to some of the more emphatic characters around her. Speaking of whom, Buddy Dawson was a delight as the crook, Moonface Martin. He combined strong, dogmatic gangster characterisation with a refined sense of comic timing.
Chris Bierton made a good fist of being the wet, foppish Lord Oakleigh and then was very amusing when he contradicted all expectations and burst into the astonishing The Gypsy In Me.
These principal players were well supported by Sandy Wandel as Hope’s mother, Evangeline, the very amusing Lance Jones as the businessman Elisha Whitney and Brooke Washusen as the conniving Erma, along with the talented dancers, the Angels, and the actors and singers of the ensemble.
The on-board set was plain and functional, and the lighting was effective, while at times the follow-spots evoked the play’s era. Narelle Lee’s well-designed costumes added to the positive effect. Critical in the production’s success was the well-modulated orchestra which helped greatly in creating the atmosphere.Anything Goes
Marie Clark Musical Theatre
The Arts Theatre