Theatre Review: ANYTHING GOES – Palace Theatre, Manchester

With its show-stopping dance routines, stunning set, and all-star cast, ANYTHING GOES makes for a delightful, delicious and ‘de-lovely’ production.

5 out of 5 stars

Following its sell-out run at the Barbican in London, Kathleen Marshall’s award-winning revival of ANYTHING GOES makes a welcome return in 2022 as it heads out on a UK tour with an all-new cast.

Based on the songs of Cole Porter, ANYTHING GOES follows the lives of various passengers abroad ocean liner SS American from New York to London. Among them is young stockbroker Billy Crocker who hopes to persuade heiress Hope Harcourt to break off her engagement to Lord Evelyn Oakley and marry him instead. The shipshape story is a classic farce of mischief, misunderstandings, love triangles, tap-dancing sailors and a disappearing dog.

As the curtain rises on Derek McLane’s impressive set, it is clear that no expense has been spared on this superb touring production. The elegant, three-storey cruise liner, which stretches the full length of the stage, forms the show’s centrepiece and is a delight to watch as it seamlessly moves the action from a functioning cocktail bar to fully furnished cabins and an engine room-cum-cell. Add in Jon Morrell’s stunning costume design and Hugh Vanstone’s dreamy lighting and ANYTHING GOES is a spectacle throughout.

Musical theatre icon Kerry Ellis steals every scene as Reno Sweeney. Her pitch-perfect vocals make light work of Porter’s brassy ballads, and she dazzles in the show-stopping number BLOW, GABRIEL BLOW as well as the comical duet YOU’RE THE TOP.

The best of the comedy comes from Denis Lawson as shambolic second-tier gangster Moonface Martin, and his sidekick Emra, played by the fantastic Carly Mercedes Dyer.

There’s also fun supporting work from Simon Callow as Billy’s idiotic boss Elisha Whitney and Bonnie Langford as Hope’s self-absorbed mother Evangeline Harcourt.

But it is Samuel Edwards as Billy and Nicole-Lily Baisden as Hope, who truly steal the show with their delightful rendition of IT’S DE-LOVELY, complete with its Hollywood style dance number.

Of course, those familiar with the musical will know that ANYTHING GOES has no functional plot but what it lacks in story, it more than makes up for in its show-stopping dance routines and musical numbers.

From I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU and YOU’RE THE TOP to IT’S DE-LOVELY BLOW, GABRIEL BLOW, Mark Aspinall’s superb 16-piece orchestra perform Porter’s joyful score with both skill and pizzazz. Add in Marshall’s fast-paced, delightful choreography and ANYTHING GOES makes for a delightful, delicious and ‘de-lovely’ production.

If you need any more convincing, the immaculately coordinated number at the end of Act 1 is worth the ticket price alone.

ANYTHING GOES runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until 18 June 2022