At Last - Anything Goes

What wouldn’t you give to be saying that now? Well, the time is coming in more ways than one. The government’s roadmap out of lockdown states that under Step 4 from 21 June 2021 we “will potentially see all legal limits on social contact removed, with the final closed sectors of the economy reopened”.

Wasting no time in taking advantage of the new freedom, London’s Barbican Theatre has announced that Anything Goes will finally be launched on Friday 23 July for a strictly limited 12 week season until Sunday 17 October, prior to a UK tour.

As an appropriately joyous breakout from lockdown it promises to be an a lavish and celebratory affair with a company featuring over 50 performers, including a full-sized orchestra and 14 tap-dancing sailors, directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall. Her 2011 Broadway production of Anything Goes was a major triumph, applauded by audiences and critics alike, receiving nominations for nine Tony Awards and 10 Drama Desk Awards, and going on to win Best Musical Revival and Best Choreography at both ceremonies.

This will be Marshall’s West End directing debut and she’s not alone in that category. Emmy & SAG Award winner Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) will make her West End musical debut as the evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, as will our own beloved Evening Standard Theatre Award winner Felicity Kendal (The Good Life), as the arrogantly superior and disdainful Evangeline Harcourt. That will surely be something to relish. Joining them will be Tony, Olivier & BAFTA Award winner Robert Lindsay (Me & My Girl, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), as second-rate gangster Moonface Martin, and leading West End musical actor Gary Wilmot (Chicago, London Palladium Pantomimes) as Ivy league Wall Street banker Elisha Whitney. Also from the American upper echelons, debutante Hope Harcourt will be played by Nicole-Lily Baisden (The Book of Mormon, Let’s Face The Music) while her fiancé’s role of the wealthy and stuffy Englishman goes to Haydn Oakley (A Christmas Carol / An American in Paris) as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Erma who knows ‘such a lot of men’ will be played by Carly Mercedes Dyer (West Side Story/Chicago). Finally, in this fabulous cast list the producers are also delighted that Samuel Edwards (Les Misérables / Wicked), whom they regard as ‘one of the UK’s most exciting young musical theatre actors’, will fill the air with heart-throbbing romance as Billy Crocker, the young Wall Street broker in love with Hope.

Producer Sir Howard Panter said, “This show is the perfect tonic following the last year of theatre closures and we can’t wait to set sail!” With memorable music and lyrics by Cole Porter, I can only say “All aboard”.

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