REVIEW: Anything Goes – Motherwell Theatre, Motherwell

Anything Goes is classic musical theatre, complete with tap numbers, cheesy jokes, unlikely happy endings and an unforgettable score by the legendary Cole Porter, it includes some of his best known tunes: “De-Lovely,” “I Get a Kick Out Of You” and of course the title song itself, to name a few.

Set aboard the ocean liner S. S. American, nightclub singer Reno Sweeney is en-route from New York to England, her young pal Billy Crocker has stowed away to be near his love, socialite Hope Harcourt, but the problem is Hope is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Joining this love triangle on board the luxury liner are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin and his sidekick-in-crime Erma. With the help of some elaborate disguises and some good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart.

This latest offering from Our Lady’s Musical Society has all the hallmarks of a winning night’s entertainment, great songs, great costumes and a light-hearted storyline, it’s the perfect piece for a large ensemble cast and there are some delightful highlights to be had: Christopher Morris shines as Billy Crocker, his era-evocative voice and golden-age of Hollywood characterisation are perfect in this pivotal role; Robert Kirkham is a delight as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, his spot-on accent and comic timing provide some of the biggest laughs of the evening and Jonathan Procter, a stalwart of many musical societies, proves why he is such an asset to any cast – his professionalism and ease on stage are a delight to watch.

However, unlike previous productions from this top-notch society, this one suffers from a lack of the requisite high energy that the show requires. This is a show renowned for its large ensemble tap numbers (and the tap skills of its leading lady) and to be frank the dancing just wasn’t up to scratch and whilst Marie Hannigan was in very fine voice as Reno Sweeney her maturity of years and lack of dancing skills were at odds with what is expected from the role. Heather Slamin too seemed somewhat miscast as Hope Harcourt, at times rather lifeless, she appeared to suffer from pitch issues throughout, though this may have been thrown into more sharp focus acting alongside the fine-voiced Hannigan and Morris.

That said, there was plenty of fun (and dodgy American accents) to be had throughout and the mature members of the audience around me seemed to be having an absolute ball. One can only hope that Our Lady’s Musical Society will be back on track next time and hopefully with an injection of some youthful new talent to balance out the high number of more mature performers they will be.