All Aboard For Anything Goes In Wimbledon
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Cole Porter’s song ‘De-Lovely’ describes the possibility of requited love, but the term also aptly sums up the show he wrote it for — ‘Anything Goes’ — which is on at the New Wimbledon Theatre.
The story sees Billy Crocker (Matt Rawle), a soon-to-be Wall Street broker, stow away on a luxury cruise liner as he tries to stave off the marriage of the woman he loves, Hope Harcourt (Zoe Rainey), who’s betrothed to sassy Englishman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Stephen Matthews). After successfully hiding from almost everyone in the first act, the second then starts with Billy found and mistaken for public enemy number one: ‘Snake Eyes Johnson’.
The steady stream of comic aristocrats, phony villains, gambling clergymen and love-struck sailors stirs up lively and cheeky commotion on the ship with dialogue packing a punch and underpinned by impressively-nuanced American regional accents. It’s a non-stop romp that produces a chuckle every other minute, though at times the lines do become muffled and a little lost in the cacophony of voices. The period costumes are gorgeous and Alistair David’s acrobatic choreography looks splendid against Richard Kent’s vibrant Art Deco set.
But it’s Debbie Kurup as seductive nightclub singer Reno Sweeney who lights up the stage song after song. Ultimately though, her impressive singing and dancing is not quite enough to offset exaggerated mannerisms that leave her larger-than life character a bit of caricature.
The tone is extremely Broadway, though perhaps this suits a story that is heavier on dazzle than meaning. The production also boasts one truly spectacular number with a synchronized sequence of 18 tappers energetically dancing in unison. The sweet story and timeless music make it well worth cruising down to south London to see this Broadway classic.
By Sophia Shluger
Anything Goes runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 7 February (before going on tour). Tickets from £15.90 - £45.90. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 03 February 2015