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How 'stern' were the critics at Anything Goes' London return?

The reviewers for the Barbican revival have filed their thoughts

Samuel Edwards and Robert Lindsay
© Tristram Kenton

Alex Wood, WhatsOnStage


"Only a crook could steal a show, and Robert Lindsay was clearly born to play gangster Moonface Martin: his grizzled, goofy comedic swagger a constant crowd-pleaser. A stand-out turn also comes from Carly Mercedes Dyer (following successes in Curve's The Color Purple and West Side Story) as Moonface's partner-in-crime Erma."

"Derek McLane's set delivers the goods – multiple decks from the SS Americana layered on top of one another like some nautical wedding cake. While giving Marshall the chance to show off the dancing prowess of her company, an extra six or so feet at the front of the stage may not have gone amiss for some of the bigger ensemble numbers."

Marianka Swain, The Telegraph


"[Director Kathleen] Marshall has a sinfully talented leading lady in Sutton Foster, who won a Tony Award when she starred in this production 10 years ago on Broadway. She plays the nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, whose act is a sexy spin on the religious revival meeting. And by the end of the blistering Blow, Gabriel, Blow, we're all converts, stopping the show with rapturous applause, cheers and hollers that seem to amaze even Foster."

"A full orchestra under Stephen Ridley gives a buoyant account of Porter's score. There are some resonant elements, like panting celebrity worship and a bleak backdrop (sub the Great Depression for Covid), but really this is escapism of the highest order. All aboard!"

Carly Mercedes Dyer and the cast of Anything Goes
© Tristram Kenton

Clive Davies, The Times


"Marshall's choreography shimmers and sparkles. The title number, which brings the first act to a close, is a stunning homage to the golden era of Broadway, played out on Derek McLane's impeccable ocean-going set. The dashing parade of gowns by Jon Morrell, the costume designer, adds zing too. If I have any reservations it's that the terrific band occasionally drowns out Porter's deft wordplay, and after the dazzling pace of the first half there's a slight loss of momentum in the second."

"Felicity Kendal adds class as the debutante's status-conscious mother — a svelte 74, she even manages to look good in a life jacket — and Haydn Oakley is superb as a bumbling English toff who is obsessed with American slang."

Tim Bano, The Stage


"Though Sutton Foster is the big draw here, Nicole-Lily Baisden, Carly Mercedes Dyer and Samuel Edwards also dazzle in Kathleen Marshall's production of the Cole Porter classic. The show combines star pull with sheer talent, topping things off with a sheen of stunningly slick comedy. It's delightful, it's delicious, etc."

"Less familiar faces match Foster, including Baisden's unhappy Hope and Edwards' desperate Billy, their gorgeous mellow voices perfectly complementing each other. Edwards is a particular revelation: the only cast member not to steal his scenes, he enlarges everyone else's wonderful performances and becomes an anchor for the whole show."

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard


"Marshall's direction and choreography are supremely polished. Derek McLane's set gives us lots of chrome and white-painted painted naval steel, plus sumptuous art deco interiors. Costume designer Jon Morrell swathes Foster in ravishing silk and ensures everyone looks fabulous, including the sailors. Surrender is the only option."

"Lindsay gives an easygoing, shoulder-rolling, soft-shoe-shuffling performance as low-league criminal Moonface Martin that reminds you what a stage pro he is. His duet with Foster on the song "Friendship" is a playful delight. There's a meltingly sweet, major-stage debut from Nicole-Lily Baisden as a clear-voiced Hope and a conversely sassy, scene-stealing turn from Carly Mercedes Dyer as libidinous gangster's moll Erma. They and Samuel Edwards, charming and tuneful as Billy Crocker, all went to London's Arts Ed drama school. Something in the water there, perhaps?"