Anything Goes

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Previewed 11 December 2002, Opened 18 December 2002, Closed 22 March 2003 at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in London
Transferred Previewed 26 September 2003, Opened 7 October 2003, Closed 28 August 2004 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre in London

Trevor Nunn's award winning revival of Cole Porter's classic musical Anything Goes in London - first seen at the National Theatre - and now at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane!

Among the passengers heading for England on the luxury liner SS American are Reno Sweeney, a sometime celebrity evangelist turned nightclub entertainer and Lord Oakleigh, a wealthy English aristocrat, accompanied by his debutante fiancée, Hope Harcourt, her protective mother and Wall Street millionaire, Eli Whitney. Less legally on board are the stowaway Billy Crocker, desperately pursuing Hope, and Moonface Martin, Public Enemy Number Thirteen, desperately seeking the kind of notoriety enjoyed by Snake Eyes Johnson, whom the FBI believe to be making the trip in disguise.

The fabulous tune-filled, dance-peppered score includes I Get A Kick Out of You, You're The Top, It's De-Lovely, Blow, Gabriel, Blow, You'd Be So Easy To Love, All Through The Night and the galvanic title number Anything Goes, which in both music and lyric so captures the spirit of the age. The first golden age of American musical comedy in the 1930s produced a crop of masterworks from the Gershwins, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Their content was intentionally and exuberantly light-hearted, with farcical plots concerning highly satirised characters, but they nonetheless presented musical scores of exquisite sophistication and elegance. Winner of the 2002 Critics' Circle Award for 'Best Musical' and the 2003 Laurence Olivier Award for 'Outstanding Musical Production'.

The cast for this production of Anything Goes in London features Sally Ann Triplett as 'Reno Sweeney', John Barrowman as 'Billy Crocker' along with Barrie Ingham as 'Eli Whitney', Annette McLaughlin as 'Erma', Mary Stockley as 'Hope Harcourt', Simon Day as 'Lord Evelyn Oakleigh' and Martin Marquez as 'Moonface Martin'. (Note Denis Quilley played the role of 'Eli Whitney' at the National Theatre). With music and lyrics by Cole Porter, original book by PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. This production is directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Stephen Mear, set designed by John Gunter and costumes designed by Anthony Powell. John Barrowman's London theatre credits include the musicals Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre in 1994 and Matador at the Queen's Theatre in 1991.

"Cole Porter was a genius; not only did he write the greatest rhymes, the wittiest lyrics and the best melodies, but in Anything Goes, which opened triumphantly this week at the National, he provided his own review: 'It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely.' To which I'll add that Trevor Nunn's production is 'definitive, it's delectable, it's de-business'. Set on a luxury ocean liner in the Thirties, Nunn's lavish, sumptuous, shipshape production rises to the occasion with tremendous style, dresses the company in outfits to die for, puts the orchestra on the upper deck, effortlessly rides the choppier waters of corny jokes and preposterous plotting, and proves blissfully buoyant... The plot is non-stop frothy idiocy, involving mistaken identities, ludicrous disguises and cock-ups, punctuated with lovely romantic moments in the moonlight and finishing up with a triple wedding. The fancy footwork miraculously mirrors Porter's verbal dexterity. Indeed, every single member of this accomplished, superbly drilled company dances in character as well as in time. Blow Gabriel Blow, a divinely spoofy gospel number ending with a teasing strip by Reno's devilishly saucy angels, almost blows the roof off the Olivier Theatre, and the wonderfully comic spectacle of Evelyn releasing the gypsy (courtesy of his great-great-grandmother's momentary indiscretion) from deep within him (The Gypsy In Me) to the accompaniment of a trio of phoney mariachi, proves another showstopper. Glorious, exuberant, exhilarating entertainment. It's the top." The Mail on Sunday

"This show is sheer gold - glittering, high-sheen gold - and Trevor Nunn and his choreographer, Stephen Mear, have lavished on it all their invention, sophistication and sly, boisterous humour. This modern, escapist Ship of Fools story is not one of the greatest musicals - it lacks the cohesion of Guys and Dolls or Oklahoma! - but it has irrepressible energy, a demented sense of comedy and a relaxed generosity that means more than just a happy ending. Sally Ann Triplett plays Reno Sweeney, evangelist turned nightclub singer, with a swaggering, come-hither sexuality, impudently up-front, a wise, downy bird you want to catch and keep. John Barrowman is Billy, the boy she fancies, agile and likeable, with a face like Tom Cruise but without the keen smugness... Come all ye that are sophisticated, who like high fashion and low humour, pure wit and dirty innuendo: this is your show." The Sunday Times

"At the end of Trevor Nunn's production of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, the audience responded as if it were 'a symphony by Strauss, a Berlin ballad, the feet of Fred Astaire', as if it were all those classy superlatives in "You're the Top", just one of its classic songs... Nothing about the production is better than its dances. The contribution made by choreographer Stephen Mear is something rare in our theatre. It's not just that the steps all have rare period flair and are brilliantly organised in terms of stage space; the main marvel is that every single member of the cast moves with such dancerly relish for their material. By the way Mear gets every character contributing to the title song he turns this whole production into a triumph of ensemble, so that the show feels larger than the sum of its parts." The Financial Times

"You can't get enough of a good thing - and indeed, thanks to some tightening-up, Trevor Nunn's production is even better the second time round... Top honours must go to Sally Ann Triplett as the red-hot evangelist Reno Sweeney and John Barrowman as the romantic lead... There are glorious performances from Simon Day as a dotty milord, Martin Marquez as Public Enemy Number Thirteen and Annette McLaughlin as his moll. But you want to go on, to include everyone from the lovelorn debutante (Mary Stockley) to the trumpeter who blows Gabriel's horn in the big revivalist number and the archetypal Palm Court gipsy trio. And as for Stephen Mear (choreography), John Gunter (set) and Anthony Powell (costumes), if there is any justice they should all be up for awards." The Sunday Telegraph

"The SS American has set sail from New York to London. And on board this extraordinary 1930s loveboat goodness knows - anything goes. What a fantastic musical this is. A collaboration between the peerless lyricist Cole Porter and the unrivalled PG Wodehouse, director Trevor Nunn's production brought the house down last night. A superb cast delivered a series of super songs which, in the seven decades since they were written, have rightly become classics... And you should see the dancing. Choreographer Stephen Mear deserves a medal. And the orchestra is wonderful." The Daily Mirror

Anything Goes in London at the Olivier Theatre previewed from 11 December 2002, opened on 18 December 2002 and closed on 22 March 2003, transferred to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane previewed from 26 September 2003, opened on 7 October 2003 and closed on 28 August 2004.