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Review: Anything Goes at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

This flawless revival of the classic Cole Porter musical is a perfect antidote to the usual panto dirge dominating the stage at this time of year.

If you’re in the mood for a show over the Christmas period, but can’t face the thought of screaming infants and audience participation, then get yourself over to Highgate for this supremely engaging and impeccably produced smorgasbord of song and dance. Although there’s not a shred of tinsel in sight, there is something inherently festive about a nautical musical – and while it ostensibly deals with relationships of a heterosexual nature, this is a spectacle that is quite definitely as camp as Christmas.

The faintly ridiculous plot involves gangsters and molls and mistaken identities, as a pair of star-crossed lovers become embroiled in shady shenanigans while crossing the Atlantic. But all that’s really just an incidental framework on which to to hang the real meat of this sumptuous showboat – the spectacular song and dance routines. Choreography by Chris Whittaker is endlessly inventive and energetic, executed with distinction by a supremely talented cast as they trip the light fantastic to the toe-tapping tunes of the on-set orchestra.

Jack McCann is captivating as Billy Crocker, the Wall Street broker who finds himself ‘all at sea’, delighting a spellbound audience with boyish charm, and the voice of an angel, as he shuffles, shimmies, and swings his way into our hearts – a true star. Taryn Erickson is perfectly cast as discotheque Delilah Reno Sweeney – vamping things up for all that she’s worth, and Samantha Dorsey impresses with an interpretation of Hope Harcourt that bristles with delectable dignity.

Jack Keane steals pretty much every scene he’s in with an hilarious turn as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh – the epitome of English upper-class twit. Keane demonstrates an instinctive flair for physical comedy – particularly in a side-splitting on-deck exercise routine – that’s sure to take him far. There’s also much humour to be found from double act duo David Pendlebury and Chloe Adele Edwards as the gangster Moonface and Bonnie his Moll – both giving superbly sketched caricatures that enliven the action with skill and savvy.

Packed with instantly recognisable songs such as I Get A Kick Out Of You, It’s De-Lovely, and a particularly rousing rendition of Blow, Gabriel, Blow from Reno, Anything Goes is a joyful jamboree stuffed to bursting with magical moments and nautical nuance. And includes our favourite Cole Porter lyric of all time: ‘But if, baby, I’m the bottom, You’re the top!’ A thoroughly recommended voyage.

GT gives Anything Goes at Upstairs at the Gatehouse — 5/5


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