Many people would argue that Cole Porter is the ultimate one-man musical theatre creator. More than any other composer, his words and music fit like a glove, and he's unashamedly willing to bend a lyrical or musical line to score a dramatic point. In Anything Goes, he has the additional benefit of collaboration with the Jeeves' creator, PG Wodehouse, and with the equally gifted Guy Bolton.
The setting is a transatlantic cruise liner heading for England. On board, Billy Crocker (Jonathan Morris) is taking advantage of the cuisine, without having bothered to pay the fare. His subterfuge is made easier than otherwise by the delectable Reno Sweeney (Gemma Craven), who feels it's time she made an honest man of him - in more ways than one. Reno taunts Billy into believing that there are other suitors bidding for her attention. "You haven't even tried to lay a hand on me - I'm not used to being treated like that."
Other, more legitimate, passengers are the delightful Hope Harcourt (Sophia Thierens), under the sponsorship of her mother Evangeline (Rosemary Lyford), and Hope's hopelessly inappropriate fiancée, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Michael Chance), who is going to disappoint us greatly if he ever gets the girl. Thankfully, when Billy's eyes meet Hope's across a crowded room, we begin to feel that lordly privilege is set to be denied. By the penniless Billy? Do me a favour!
Adding welcome confusion to the ship's serenity are two unconnected men of the church - one a legitimate prelate on his way to Westminster Abbey, the other, in disguise, the two-bit hood Moonface Martin (Billy Boyle), who keeps a submachine gun in his violin case, in case the good lord needs help to achieve his next miracle.
"In olden days/A glimpse of stocking/Was looked on as something shocking/Now - heaven knows/Anything goes." There are some gratifying glimpses of stocking in this production with even the clergy and the aristocracy playing their part. We just know Billy is going to get the girl - and he does - but it comes as a surprise to discover that Moonface has decided to carry out a bogus shipboard marriage ceremony himself - on himself. "It's not legal, is it?" he asks, when the light of day brings tinges of regret.
Legal? Nothing's legal. Anything goes.
It's naughty but nice. It'll make you want to get out of town for a
transatlantic cruise, looking like a saint and behaving like the devil. Do