Anything Goes at Stowmarket

Anything Goes, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, presented by Stowmarket Operatic & Dramatic Society, Regal Theatre, Stowmarket until Saturday 1 Decemberj

James Hayward

Anything Goes, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, presented by Stowmarket Operatic & Dramatic Society, Regal Theatre, Stowmarket until tomorrow

THIS is the ultimate feel-good show, and I can think of no better way to spend an otherwise damp and dreary November evening than watching Cole Porter's marvellous musical comedy.

This fun-filled production is brimful of some of the greatest songs of the 20th Century - I Get A Kick Out Of You, It's De-lovely, You're The Tops, and the show-stopping title number Anything Goes, which closes the first half with the entire cast hoofing it on stage while the whole audience tap along too.

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The story is pure farce. Billy Crocker, a young New York office worker, stows away on a trans-Atlantic liner, to prevent the girl of his dreams, beautiful socialite Hope Harcourt, from marrying a stuffed-shirt English aristocrat Lord Evelyn Oakley.

Forced to wear a series of ridiculous disguises, Billy is aided and abetted by fugitive from justice, "Moonface" Martin (public enemy number 13) and his moll, the very blonde and ditzy Erma.

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Also on board is nightclub singer turned evangelist Reno Sweeney, who, with her band of high-stepping chorus-girl “Angels", uses sex appeal to sell her brand of revivalist religion.

Thirties frivolity abounds, but the show also says something serious about the cult of celebrity that's just as pertinent today. The ship's passengers are all obsessed with fame, and it doesn't matter what any one is actually famous for, just being famous is enough.

The plot may be flimsy, but there is nothing insubstantial about Peter Gunton's magnificent set, which transforms the Stowmarket Regal into the gleaming deck of the SS American, and provides the cast with a splendid backdrop for the action.

It's a very demanding piece for the performers who, virtually without exception, have to sing, act and dance.

Although on occasions some of the voices are a little underpowered, they do a good job, and are well served by Anne Lilley's fluid direction, Keely Taylor's delightful choreography and Simon Pulham's sympathetic conducting.

Karen Long is a sassy Reno Sweeney, Matthew Bendall shows lots of promise as leading man Billy, Angela Smith is a delicious Erma, and Michael Jewell almost steals the show as the upper-class twit.


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