Boisterously fun, Cole Porter’s Anything Goes is that reliably good musical romp filled with so many hits, now singularly recognisable and enjoyable in their own right, that the dated premise does not detract from a great deal of nostalgic, toe-tapping extravagance.
There’s a ship, sailors, society types, less than reputable characters, a wedding, more than one scandal and a dozen or so pieces of safety equipment used to best effect in some of the larger and instantly enjoyable musical numbers.
The female cast are the stand-outs of this production – Caroline O’Connor as Reno Sweeney performing the well-known title number and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” are among the show’s highlights. The brief musical halt in “Friendship” allows for some of Anything Goes’ more uproarious moments to break through, of which there are many; the numerous pithy exchanges between the cast often proving more enjoyable than the large-scale musical numbers.
Claire Lyon as Hope Harcourt owns some of the show’s most memorable moments including the “It’s De-Lovely” rendition with Billy Crocker (Alex Rathgeber). Veteran Todd McKenney as the less than glamorous Lord Evelyn Oakleigh rounds out a solid cast. With almost every musical number showcasing Porter’s highly celebrated talent and ingenuity, only the early renditions of “I Get a Kick Out of You” and You’re the Top” fail to meet the exuberant pace set by the very energetic musical. Both performed too hurriedly in parts, the show really picks up its rhythm toward the end of the first half and maintains its momentum throughout its latter stage.
An endlessly performed and highly familiar show, Anything Goes’ endearing charm comes from the nostalgia and deserved popularity of its most well-known songs, famously performed by any number of personalities including Frank Sinatra. Its premise and structure are heavily formulaic and now barely distinguishable from any number of musicals and shows from the period and after, filled with tropes and elements that do not translate well for a modern audience, nor which are in any sense endearing.
Its outmoded mentality proving no match for a large selection of hugely gratifying numbers, Anything Goes survives as a musical from the enduring character of its hits that are repeatedly well executed in this vigorous and lively production.
Anything Goes is now playing at the Sydney Opera House