Upstairs at the Gatehouse
20th December 2016
After the success of last year’s Legally Blonde, the space above the Gatehouse pub is achieving a formidable reputation for Christmas musicals.
This year’s production of 1930s classic Anything Goes looks set to boost that even further. The show is an inspired choice for a bit of festive escapism; the plot is daft and requires considerable suspension of disbelief but the script is excellent, as is Cole Porter’s memorable score.
This show has produced a lot of songs that are famous in their own right (I Get a Kick Out of You, Let’s Misbehave and the titular Anything Goes); and they all sounded fantastic thanks to Dan Glover’s band and orchestrations. Musical theatre purists will also notice that this is the more rarely performed 1962 version, meaning audiences will get to sample some lesser-known Porter tunes.
The tale is set aboard the ocean liner S. S. American, where famous singer Reno Sweeney is travelling from New York to England. Her pal Billy Crocker has stowed away to try and charm his crush, Hope Harcourt. However, unfortunately for him she is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
It is primarily a song and dance show and the stunning choreography of Chris Whittaker is vital in bringing it to life. There was a very high standard of dancing across the board, especially when they had to perform some complex tap routines in a very small space.
It is a superb cast, headed up by strong performances from Taryn Erickson (in her UK debut) as Reno and Samantha Dorsey (one of my favourite Cosettes during her time in Les Mis) as Hope. However, Jack McCann’s Billy didn’t quite do it for me; his voice never fully matched the powerhouse females, although his acting and dancing were both very good.
This is an extremely funny show, although some of the ‘disguise’ scenes seem a bit old hat these days. The finest comic performance comes from Jack Keane as the kind and foppish Sir Evelyn. He is a wonderful physical comic (a scene of him simply running around the stage had the audience in stitches) but he also made a likeable character out of what could have been a thinly drawn stereotype.
Similarly, David Pendelbury as Moonface Martin and Chloe Adele Edwards as Bonnie made for an entertaining pair of comedy gangsters, with Edwards making great work of the solo numbers that are often culled from modern revivals of this show.
The small space is used to maximum effect, with a traverse stage supported by a ship deck to provide an additional dimension. Harriet Fowler’s costumes are as fun and jazzy as the music, with some eye-catching period designs adding to the sense of glamour.
This is a show well worth watching, at a venue that is becoming a byword for fun and vibrant festive musicals. Check it out before it goes!
Until 29th January 2017