Anything Goes

Christmas shows at the Crucible directed by Daniel Evans come with certain guarantees – big laughs, big songs and even bigger dance numbers. This year's production, Anything Goes, is no exception and in addition to the usual festivities, this production comes with a side order of 1930s glamour and cruise ship campness. The cast is led by Debbie Kurup, playing Reno Sweeney. Kurup's voice is exceptional and she plays the part with a feistiness which lifts the entire show. The comedy is brought by gangster Moonface Martin (Hugh Sachs) and his girl Erma (Alex Young) and the Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Stephen Matthews). Erma's song ‘Buddie, Beware’, complete with tap dancing sailors, and Lord Oakleigh's ‘The Gypsy in Me’ are highlights of the show, the latter of which had the entire audience in stitches.

The plot of this Cole Porter musical is pretty thin. It's best described as a caper with star-crossed lovers, mistaken identities and two-bit gangsters all playing a part in the on-ship antics. The songs are familiar swing hits with stand-out numbers including ‘I Get Kick Out of You’, ‘Friendship’, ‘You're the Top’ and ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’. But many of the other numbers seem underwhelming and are indistinguishable, particularly the slow love songs, despite the fantastic cast doing their best to make them memorable. Although it might not be up there with Crucible's recent Christmas productions of My Fair Lady and Oliver!, the big numbers in Anything Goes (‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’, to name a couple), are sensational and it's impossible not to want to tap dance all the way home after such uplifting performances.

Sarah Stewart

Dick Whittington

Let me start this review with a confession. I love panto. So when I was asked to pop along to The Lyceum to see their version of the classic Dick Whittington, I jumped at the chance.

Paul Hendy’s creation has everything that I have come to love about the genre. It’s bold, brash and stuffed full of double entendres to keep the adults in the audience amused.

Key to this is the absolutely brilliant Damian Williams as Dolly the Chef. A seasoned panto professional, he glides through all the madness with ease, and quite often throws the other actors off guard as he ad libs and reacts to the shouts of the children in the audience.

Also key to the action is the pantomime baddie, King Rat, played perfectly by John Barr. Always a favourite with the audience, who love a good excuse to boo, he hams it up nicely and his musical numbers are the best in the whole show.

One final round of applause needs to go to the excellent performers in the Junior Ensemble, who are obviously having a great time and relishing being part of the action.

It will be easy for some people to focus on the things that go a bit awry, but let’s not forget that panto is for children, and from the shouts, laughter and general giddiness emanating from the younger portion of the audience, it’s safe to say that Dick Whittington is a hit.

Becca Doram

Photo: Johan Persson