KD Theatre’s Anything Goes is cheerfully cheesy, well-done Cole Porter in an hour and a half. It’s a little sad to have to miss out on some of the good stuff— Anything Goes is one of the most perfect musicals ever written but if you’re craving Cole during Fringe this is a quick, satisfying fix. The performances are rarely more than deliciously hammy musical theatre acting but it’s mostly delightful, though the addition of live music would make this show absolutely delovely.
This Anything Goes is a delight— sure, it lacks the grandeur of the full production but this bubbly, fun show goes down as easily as champagne.
Nobody goes to see Anything Goes for the plot. There’s a boat and romance and tap dancing— that’s about all you need to know. KD Theatre’s set is impressive; they’ve managed to build and transport quite a large boat. The costumes are satisfactory, though the men are oddly more resplendent than the women.
As Reno Sweeney, Rachel Rawlinson certainly gets the most coveted numbers, from I Get A Kick Out of You to You’re the Top, to Blow, Gabriel, Blow but the pre-recorded music is just a little too fast. Back in Porter’s day, singers did go skittering through the songs but this music has mellowed with time. When someone serenades you with You’re the Top, you want her to really swing it. Rawlinson struggles a bit with a tinny American accent and with finding the pathos in the nightclub queen’s bravado but she does have a lovely camaraderie with Joshua Sinclair (Billy Crocker). Sinclair’s an upstanding leading man and a fine singer, though he does have a tendency to lapse into Tenor Histrionics at the close of each song. This isn’t The Phantom of the Opera, do calm down.
Lucinda Withers is a rather bland Hope Harcourt but to her credit Hope’s the blandest of bland female leads. The supporting performances are all solid: Oliver Scott’s cackling Elisha Whitney is a hybrid of Austen Powers and Jerry Lewis and Rhys Whiteside nearly steals the show as the excellently swishy Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. Dominic Owen plays the gangster Moonface Martin with snarling, pugnacious energy and beautiful comic timing. He can really land those punchlines and sell the situational comedy. Owen’s note-perfect performance and accent make him one of the best things onstage, though Matthew Whitby as the ferret-faced Purser is a close second.
The only thing really missing from this perfectly decent production is live music. Even the smallest and simplest band would be preferable to the canned orchestra music, which is sometimes drowned out entirely by some very overzealous mic-ing. If they managed a boat, surely they could spring for a pianist. Otherwise, this Anything Goes is a delight— sure, it lacks the grandeur of the full production but this bubbly, fun show goes down as easily as champagne.