Off it Goes – a preview of the award-winning Anything Goes revival before it heads off on tour
The show sets sail later this month
Before setting sail on its upcoming UK tour, the Cole Porter classic Anything Goes welcomed a small crowd of guests to a champagne reception and impromptu cabaret dinner at The Arts Club in London in which returning alumni from last year's WhatsOnStage Award-winning run at the Barbican Theatre were joined by some new additions to the cast to deliver a few appetising performances.
The evening began with the introduction of hosts Bonnie Langford and Simon Callow, former co-stars themselves who will be reuniting aboard the SS American as social climber Evangeline Harcourt and endearing drunkard Elisha Whitney. Both accomplished performers, the witty remarks they shared as they offered insight into the show's 90-year history is nothing compared with the comic hijinks they will soon share onstage. The two then ushered on Samuel Edwards, who returns to the role of Billy Crocker, and Kerry Ellis, the first homegrown leading lady to take on the role of Reno Sweeney in this revival. Singing "You're the Top", one of the show's many popular standards, an instant chemistry between the two makes their pairing in this show easy to look forward to.
A delicious meal was followed by another enormous treat as Carly Mercedes Dyer recreated her WhatsOnStage Award-winning performance as Erma, belting up a storm with the show's eleven o'clock number, "Buddy Beware" which, before the show opens in Bristol next month may also have earned her an Olivier Award. Though sailor-less on this occasion, she gamely directed her attention towards producer Howard Panter and a handful of flattered journalists.
Finally, not content simply to dazzle the audience with a vocally stirring rendition of "I Get a Kick Out of You", Kerry Ellis returned with a small ensemble of dancing sailors in tow to offer but a snippet of doubly Olivier-nominated director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall's now-iconic eight-minute tap number that ends the show's first act, a killer combination of uniform dancing and powerhouse vocals that puts Ellis' Laine Theatre Arts training to good use. As opening night looms, all eyes are on the new leading lady, perhaps best known for playing Elphaba in Wicked on both sides of the Atlantic, as she trades in her broomstick for a pair of tap shoes and, if this evening's preview was any indication, she certainly won't disappoint.
With this new cast of theatrical veterans joining the show's already acclaimed performances there can surely be lots of surprises to look forward to this summer – whether it's unexpected comic adlibs from Dennis Lawson's Moonface Martin, the soaring vocal options Ellis might add to the climactic "Blow Gabriel, Blow" or the likelihood that dancing legend Bonnie Langford might find herself 'Marshall'd' into one of the show's many glorious dance moments.
Audiences will have to book tickets to one of the show's tour dates or its subsequent London homecoming to find out for themselves.