Left – Caroline O'Connor. Cover – Caroline O'Connor and the cast. Photos – Belinda Strodder | dancephotography.net.au
Cole Porter's Anything Goes has re-surfaced in an over-the-top new production. The story may still be set in the olden post-depression, fun-filled 1930s, but with outlandish humour ripe for a contemporary audience.
This time the camp quotient is raised to the roof, filled with knock-about comedy and some very large performances.
An immediate success when it first premiered with the legendary Ethel Merman in the lead, Anything Goes' slight storyline was overshadowed by some of the very best tunes that Mr Porter ever wrote.
Immortal songs such as You're the Top, Friendship, All Through the Night and of course the title song, are given every opportunity to shine and there's little chance of not humming several of these as you exit the theatre.
Equally thrilling are some of the most energetic and well staged dance routines that we have seen in a while. Reno and Moonface in Friendship is a masterful interpretation featuring two season performers at the peak of their comedic and dancing skills, while the company performing Anything Goes at the end of Act One received a deserved overwhelming reception. Andrew Hallsworth's choreography is yet again a sheer delight to savour.
The producers have also cast some of Australia's finest performers in the lead roles.
Bartholomew John makes a welcome return as Elisha Whitney, while Carmen Duncan makes a lovely music theatre debut as Mrs Harcourt. Claire Lyon (Hope Harcourt) and Alex Rathgeber (Billy Crocker) are suitably charming as the romantic leads. Both have lovely singing voices and Alex proves that he is quite a talented dancer as well.
Deborah Krizak delivers another standout performance as gangster moll Erma, and has a lovely moment to shine when she performs Buddie Beware.
Todd McKenney has a lot of fun with the very English Lord Evelyn, while Gerry Connolly channels American comedic actor Paul Lynde to deliver the campest Captain ever seen in this show.
The stars of this production though are the talented, experienced duo of Caroline O'Connor (Reno Sweeney) and Wayne Scott Kermond (Moonface Martin). Both these triple threat performers almost out-sing, out-act and out-dance each other. All their skills come to the fore in the snappy Friendship number already mentioned – yet another crowd-pleasing moment.
Director Dean Bryant has done a fine job in putting all the pieces together to create a show that above all else is a huge bundle of fun.
Dale Ferguson's designs add to the visual splendour while the orchestra lead by Peter Casey makes the music sound totally de-lovely.
Anything Goes should please music theatre lovers, young or old.
Opera Australia and John Frost present
Director Dean Bryant
Venue: Princess Theatre, Melbourne
Dates: from 27 May, 2015
Times: Wed–Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Tues & Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm & Sun 3pm
Tickets: from $79.90
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au | 1300 111 011
Lyric Theatre, QPAC
From 28 July, 2015
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
From 8 September, 2015