Anything Goes

8th to 11th May 2024

Cole Porter & P G Wodehouse | Sutton Coldfield Town Hall | Directed by Pam & James Garrington

Cole Porter’s musical comedy is a de-lovely delight in Manor Musical Theatre Company’s latest production at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall.

‘Anything Goes’ is the stuff of musical legend and continues to be loved by audiences almost 90 years after it first premiered in November 1934. A recent London production, featuring Sutton Foster and Robert Lindsay, won the ‘WhatsOnStage’ Best Musical Revival in 2022 and toured the UK. Tackling this golden age classic is hugely ambitious. Directed by Pam and James Garrington, MMTC rise to the challenge in impressive style, transporting the opening night audience to luxury liner the S. S. American for an evening of wonderful songs and larger-than-life characters.

The plot is delightfully ridiculous, based as it is on P G Wodehouse’s original book. The course of true love never did run smooth but in this musical romp across the Atlantic lovers face more than their fair share of unusual challenges. Expect stowaways, cunning disguises and repressed passions, all set to one of the wittiest scores in musical theatre history.

Under the musical direction of Peter Bushby, a live orchestra bring Cole Porter’s memorable score to life in toe-tapping style. Recorded music can work well in Sutton Coldfield’s Town Hall but you can’t beat a live band, especially when they are playing gold-plated classics such as ‘Anything Goes’, ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’ and ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’.

Leigh-Ann James leads the company with a commanding performance as evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, setting the standard for acting, singing and dancing. There’s great chemistry between her and Dan Barnes’ charismatic Billy Crocker, the lovesick Wall Street broker stowaway. They are both in fine voice and bring great comic timing to their roles, particularly in their performance of ‘You’re the Top’.

Sasha Barnes is a classy Hope Harcourt, the debutante pursued by Billy, and her fiancée Lord Evelyn Oakleigh is brilliantly played by Matt Cotter who is every inch the repressed aristocrat. His performance of ‘The Gypsy in Me’ is the comic highlight of the show. Paul Wescott is excellent as gravel-voiced loveable gangster Moonface Martin, showing his softer side in an endearing performance of ‘Be Like the Bluebird’ in the second half.

Sarah Watts is a wonderfully sassy and flirtatious Erma, Richard Parry’s comic timing is spot on as shortsighted Wall Street tycoon Eli Whitney and Hope’s mother Evangeline is gloriously over-the-top as she searches for ‘Cheeky’, her missing dog. Isabelle Larkin’s choreography is strong throughout and the leads are ably supported by a huge ensemble, nailing the big title number and ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ brilliantly.

It all adds up to an utterly joyful night in the theatre, combining great music with some of the best lyrics ever written for the stage. Highly recommended. All aboard!

‘Anything Goes’ is playing at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall from 8th to 11th May 2024.

Anything Goes