Tag Archives: Debbie Kurup

REVIEW: Anything Goes – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Even with his status as the golden boy in a golden era of music, I’m not sure that Cole Porter could have ever imagined that his 1930s screwball musical comedy Anything Goes would still be being staged over 80 years after its first appearance – but here it still is, after an initial festive run in 2014 at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre under the direction of Daniel Evans and now on a relatively lengthy UK tour, the question that must be asked is: “is this grande dame of musical theatre ageing well?”. ANYTHING-GOES.-The-company.-Photo-by-Johan-Persson   On the ocean liner SS American bound for London from New York, lovelorn stockbroker Billy Crocker (Matt Rawle) has stowed away in an attempt to win the heart of heiress Hope Harcourt (Zoë Rainey) a girl he’s only clapped eyes on once, unfortunately for Billy, Hope is engaged to upper class aristo Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Stephen Matthews). Also on board, and adding to the shenanigans, are former evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Debbie Kurup), Public Enemy no.13 Moonface Martin disguised as a priest (Shaun Williamson), some saucy sailors and a slew of showgirls. The plot is tissue paper thin with mistaken identities and everyone loving everyone else but no one loving the right people back, but that said it is, as the song says, ‘a delicious, delightful, de-lovely’ piece of fluff. Anything Goes 2 P.G. Wodehouse’s original script has undergone several revisions: in 1962, 1987 and 2011, presumably to update some of the more dated aspects of the comedy, however it must be said that further revision is required to prevent many of the ‘jokes’ from falling flat, much time has passed and some of the more obscure references illicit only a few knowing groans. Debbie Kurup (Reno Sweeney) and the Company of Anything Goes. Credit Johan Persson.jpg The thing that really elevates the whole production are the glorious melodies and pithy lyrics of Porter.  The opportunity to wallow in these wonderful tunes (a few of which have been added from the Porter back catalogue) sung by a tuneful chorus is glorious. However it must be said that Debbie Kurup in the pivotal role of Reno Sweeney was, on the night of this review, somewhat off-kilter in her renditions of these much-loved classics: be it the arrangements imposed upon her or just a voice unsuited to this style of music, there were times when the melody was wandering dangerously into tunelessness. Having seen Miss Kurup in other productions I can vouch for her singing talent, so it gives pause for thought here. Kurup is ably supported by a fine ensemble: in particular Matt Rawle who manages to deliver a vocal performance that was era-evocative, (however his facial expressions at times looked like gurning), TV favourite Shaun Williamson is an engaging gangster with an unexpectedly tuneful voice, but is Stephen Matthews who delivers the night’s show stealing performance as Lord Evelyn – releasing his inner passion in “The Gypsy in Me”. STanythinggoes2014JP-13747-Edit-EDIT-DG-s2 It is a slow build to the rousing Act One closing title number and the whole production only truly comes to life when the cast are tapping and singing as one – it’s these moments that the audience have been waiting for. It must be said too, that following hot on the heels of a recent tour of the truly outstanding Top Hat, it may suffer a little in comparison. This old lady of musicals still has tunes to delight in but it’s showing a few wrinkles and bags, however if it’s a night of escapist fun played out on an absolutely beautiful set with a talented ensemble you’re looking for, then Anything Goes is the show for you. Runs until Sat 25 April then touring This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com

REVIEW: The Bodyguard – Adelphi Theatre, London

What can I say about a blockbusting juggernaut of a show like this? Based on the 1992 Warner Brothers film and packing in a career worth of Whitney Houston tunes, it tells the story of former Secret Service agent, Frank Farmer hired to protect musical superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. 

The movie storyline has been beefed up by Alexander Dinelaris, focussing on Rachel and Frank’s budding relationship and padding out the supporting role of sister Nicki. 

The production values are high: the set is spectacularly designed with many clever visual tricks and moves seamlessly from scene to scene.

The cast are of the utmost quality: headed up by Lloyd Owen (Frank Farmer) and Gloria Onitiri (Rachel Marron), both turn in highly competent performances, Onitiri’s voice is particularly stunning. The central pair are ably supported by Debbie Kurup as Nicki and a cast of sure-footed, familiar TV faces, most impressive among them Mark Letheren as the Stalker.

Production values and quality cast aside, there’s something missing here: there’s a great big hole where its heart should be and instead of that celebratory feeling when you leave a great musical, it leaves no lasting impression. Big, bold, brash, ear-splittingly loud and utterly undemanding but it falls far short as classic musical theatre.