Thursday, 21 July 2011

Anything Goes, The Rattonians, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

Anything Goes
The Rattonians
Congress Theatre

20-30 July 2011

Performance seen 21st July


The Rattonians Company
As always I will publish the massive cast in due course
but I don't want to use the programme listing until the run is over

Well at the time of writing this I have to say that Eastbourne has it made at the moment having two superb summer shows within a couple of minutes walking distance of each other. Murder by Misadventure at the Devonshire Park and this wonderful staging of Anything Goes here at the Congress Theatre.

You could quite easily have a fantastic day of theatre catching a matinee of one show and then having a quick break before seeing the evening performance of the other.

It's always pleasurable, going to see a musical you've never seen before. A situation where you may be familiar with the odd song but you haven't got a clue about the subject matter. A tad of cultural ignorance can be a good thing at times.

For me this was the situation with Anything Goes. Apart from being aware that the music and lyrics are by Cole Porter, that it's a comedy and that it's based on a ship I knew nothing of the subject matter.

So for the likewise uninitiated here is a vague synopsis so avoid spoiling anything. The tale is based on board an ocean liner sailing from New York to London. Madly in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, Billy Crocker is a stowaway desperately trying to stop her marrying her eccentric fiance Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Famous nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and gangster Moonface Martin aid (and abet) Billy in his search for his one true love. 
The set is both impressive and ingenious. The, always marvellous, musicians were all dressed in appropriate sailor suits on the top deck. Meanwhile action amongst the cast can also occur on the top deck, the lower deck and in two "pull out" cabins which can be changed for various locations as the story unfolds. On occasions we even see gangplanks bringing 'guests' aboard from the auditorium.

Funny? Incredibly so. I smiled and laughed so much during the two and a quarter hour show that my mouth practically ached at the sides. There is just so much great humour that I could name so many of the cast members but Peter Gurr as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh played one of the best comedy roles I have ever seen. He is honestly almost worth going to see the show for in his own right.

Vocally, well The Rattonians have never disappointed on this front and they didn't fail tonight. Alex Adams and Chloe Shearer play Billy and Hope and work together beautifully.

James Hookway is always great in a comedy role and there could not have been a better choice to play public enemy number thirteen Moonface Martin.

I don't think I've mentioned her in a Rattonians review before but Jade Powers as Mrs Evangeline Harcourt was screechingly hysterical as she searched for missing dog Cheeky (played by sweet little Lola) . Also never mentioned before Roger Tomlinson who made a wonderful job of portraying the ship's captain as he desperately tried to find a famous guest to impress those on board.

The whole cast, as far as I was concerned were perfect. But I really think I owe a mention to Lucy Anderson who plays a girlfriend in this show. Now I don't know quite how she did it but only 3 weeks ago we watched Lucy's incredible performance in the BLODS production of Copacabana in Bexhill. Yet here she is undertaking the demanding vocal and choreography routines of Anything goes without a care in the world and without a foot out of place or a note out of tune. That is commitment and a huge well done to her!

The costumes were, as they always are just perfect but I'm going to end on the choreography. I have always been impressed with the routines in previous productions such as 42nd Street, Copacabana, Fame etc. But the routines in Anything Goes are really something else. Leading into the interval there is a massive routine to the title tune "Anything Goes". It seems to go on for an eternity. It has most, if not all, of the company on the stage and it appeared step perfect from everybody involved. The routine received a massive reaction from the audience and it leaves you going into the break on a real high.

Jan Lynton I have reviewed many of the shows you have quite wonderfully choreographed in Eastbourne yet I don't think I've ever given you the credit you deserve. So I think I'd better make up for it be saying this lady works so hard and takes so much pride in her work that you know you are always going to get a well produced dance routine. She also commands a huge respect from the theatrical companies she works with and from those involved in Eastbourne's theatres. Jan is a huge asset for so many shows, so well done your work is incredible and appreciated by so many.

That's it on Anything Goes now except to say do pick up a programme - they are complimentary this year - but please make a donation in the buckets for the Rattonians chosen charities. Because in addition to staging some of the best musicals you could see in Eastbourne they raise a heck of a lot of money for good causes.
Thanks Rattonians for Anything Goes and a thoroughly great evening's entertainment.

I am ensuring this is published well before the end of the run because I want others to appreciate this production. With top price tickets at just £15 and matinees at just £12.50 you will not find a better musical for so little money at the Congress Theatre this year.

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1 comment:

  1. Catherine Burton24 July 2011 at 16:50

    I completely agree. This was one of the best shows I've seen for a while and the brilliant scene before the interval will stay with me for a long time. The choreography was superb, the cast had endless energy, the band were fantastic and the set and costumes were spot on. My 2 sons (12 + 9 ) also loved it. I will be planning my next trip to visit family in Sussex around your next performance. Well done.


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