Skip to main content

Review of Anything Goes at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

There was a time twelve months or so ago that musicals for me were few and far between, now I seem to be watching loads of them. Therefore it was of course inevitable that I would find myself at the Royal & Derngate for Stage Entertainment/Sheffield Theatres new touring version of Anything Goes. My only previous encounter with Cole Porter was when I watched a 2001 version of Kiss Me Kate on Sky Arts a few months ago. It was great fun and therefore a live Porter show held high anticipation.

I was not to be disappointed as this was an incredibly dynamic and "big" performance. Probably the most lavish I have seen outside London maybe. Spotless performances and simply huge numbers, with dance routines that filled every inch of the Derngate stage. Particularly the show stopping "Anything Goes" to close the first half. From my three rows from stage seat, I almost felt as if I was on the SS America, such were the set-pieces so large.

The story itself is, I am growing to learn from the routine for many a musical, is very lightweight, We might have somebody who loves someone, they might return that love if not for being about to marry someone else. There might be some larger than life characters thrown into the mix (maybe some gangster?). There might also be some mistaken identity as well. It is all rather trivial and pointless if you get your magnifying glass out. It might also be a little dated at times and almost certainly have some parts not politically correct.

However stories in musicals often just get in the way of the music and the dance, and Anything Goes has some really rather impressive music and director Daniel Evans' production together with choreographer Alistair David has some truly dazzling dance. Not least from the truly superb lead Debbie Kurup as Reno Sweeney. Equally talented in the singing and dancing, she is the star of the show, who despite everybody being on stage for the epic "Anything Goes" is the one you are watching. Also up there in the star ranks is the comic turn from Stephen Matthews as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. He is simply hysterical to watch during his appearances and his "The Gypsy In Me" is just quite simply superb.

I was very surprised to find Barry from Eastenders in the show, but it was a pleasant surprise to see him on stage at the Derngate again after seeing him last year in One Man, Two Guvnors. It was also very surprising that Shaun Williamson (to give him his proper name) could actually hold quite a note as Moonface Martin. Who knew? (Edit: I have since been informed by @The_Ambassador_ on Twitter that he released an album. Who knew? I didn't.)

Designer Richard Kent has come up with a gloriously clever set and this coupled with Tim Mitchell's lighting creates very much the cruise ship style. I particularly loved the multi-changing lighting on the "SS America" name during the numbers. This coupled together with the generous cast numbers made this a very high quality touring show and one which you should do the honour of seeing. A perfectly ship shaped production!

«««««


Performance reviewed: Monday 11th May, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Anything Goes runs at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 16th May, 2015 before continuing its tour until 30th May, 2015

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website athttp://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…

Review of Hansel & Gretel by Warts & All at Delapré Abbey, Northampton

For those unfamiliar with Kneehigh Theatre (from where this show originally comes), the best way of explaining them is that they do traditional things, differently. This performance by Warts and All Theatre of their adaptation of the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel tells you much of what you need to know early on as a (human) rabbit is pinned down upon a table and skinned (half their costume removed). It is just one of an evening of wacky and quite brilliant moments as this production sours mostly for the sky of brilliance.

Handed to a cast of young performers, the result is often disturbingly professional. Sure it is still rough around the edges at times, but perhaps this helps the material. It doesn't actually matter if there is sparring from the cast with the audience, knowing looks and playfulness. It doesn't matter if one of the cast nearly knocks the cymbal of the musicians flying, perhaps it would have been even better if they had, this is anachic fun at its very b…