REVIEW: Anything Goes at Opera House, Manchester

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again...

For a night of light entertainment jump on board the SS American & join Reno Sweeney (Debbie Kurup), Billy Cracker (Matt Rawle) and the rest of the cast of “Anything Goes” for a journey to England on a luxury liner in the 1930s & a comic farce by Vinton Freedley together with some well known songs by Cole Porter including ”You’re the Top”; “I Get a Kick Out of You”; “It’s De-Lovely”; “Blow Gabriel, Blow” as well as the title song.

‘boy meets girl,
boy loses girl,
boy finds girl again’

The show has seen numerous revivals & adaptations over the years since its first performance in 1934 initially in Boston USA before moving to New York but it was a miracle it came to the stage at all. Two days before rehearsals were due to begin, SS Morro Castle sank just outside New York harbour, one of the worst maritime disasters in American history. A nautical musical comedy didn’t seem quite right but has been a success both in the theatre and on film.

The story is simple: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again and eventually true love is found by those that least expect it.

Whilst the show seemed slightly slow to start there’s a great end to the first half with the title song, lots of energy & a fast paced tap routine. There are some real laugh out load moments & for me the highlight was “The Gypsy in Me” performed by Lord Evelyn Oakleigh played by Stephen Matthews, whose characterisation of the British aristocrat is superb with some great one liners thrown in for good measure. There are strong performances, too, from Zoë Rainey playing Hope Harcourt and Matt Rawle playing Billy Cracker, with a star studded cast who between them have numerous credits, including Kate Anthony (playing Evangeline Harcourt) who is probably best known for her role in Coronation Street as Auntie Pat & Shaun Williamson (playing Moonface Martin) who will be remembered by many as Barry Evans in Eastenders.

The set design is clever once you work out which way the cruise liner is facing, the choreography could have perhaps been more original in parts & in the style of the era more, the live orchestra always adds something special to any performance and the finale with a reprise of “Anything Goes” had the audience tapping their feet & clapping along before leaving the theatre with a feel good feeling having seen the kind of first class entertainment for which the Opera House prides itself. Showing till 18 April.


Showing until April 18 at Opera House, Manchester.

Tickets from ATG Tickets here

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