Review – Anything Goes – Sheffield Theaters at New Wimbledon Theater

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There was little to excite me about the revival of Anything Goes that was wending its way to the New Wimbledon theater for a late winter run. I’ve seen so much watery tat on stage there that, despite the fact it’s closer to my flat than any other full size house, I just automatically assume that anything they have there is going to be poor. I mean, it’s like they don’t really use a quality filter before they accept a booking (Russian State Ballet’s Swan Lake?), as if they think that living in Wimbledon kills people’s critical faculties and all they need to do is stick stuff on a stage and people will come look. You wonder, really, in the age of movie and TVs, how this could possibly work as a business model, but for profit theater is a bit of a mystery to me.

But then a sneaky thing happened, with word of mouth creeping in to change my mind. First, I got a direct, personal recommendation from TootingGareth, then PaulinLondon and JohnnyFox gave it a raving AudioBoo. I really trust these guys’ judgments, and Gareth apparently has a solid understanding of what I like from my musical theater: excellent productions with great dancing and songs you sing as you walk out the door. And this, I’m pleased to say, is a musical that ticks everything on my list. The talent they’ve recruited are snappy and professional, the costumes and set design are swoony, and they just went wild with the choreography. I was unable to tear my eyes away from the juicy delights in front of me: it was like the most exquisite of buffets, with every table featuring a different collection of sweet or succulent dishes. And it wasn’t just the “main courses” (“Anything Goes,” “Blow Gabriel Blow”) that were good – the forgettable “side dishes” had been transformed into memorable, exciting numbers that did far more than provide filler between dialogue. I mean, every time I hear “Gypsy In Me” on my copy of the soundtrack, I cringe a little, but with a scene stealing comic as Sir Evelyn (Stephen Matthews) bullfighting with Reno Sweeney (Debbie Kurup), suddenly the whole number rose to a level I never thought possible. It was funny, it was clever, it was engaging, it wriggled and jiggled, it crackled and popped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: it was the National Gallery, it was Garbo’s salary, it was Ovaltine. And before it had always been filler. Wow.

I’m going to do my best to do a song my song review of this at some stage – oh, the yellow loungers the Sweeney girls reclined on while the crew danced the “Sailor’s Chanty!” – the pool the chorines “swam” out of on stage for the little dream ballet number! – but instead I’m going to pass on the great good news: this show is going on tour all over the UK, to Bristol, Torquay, Belfast, Cardiff, Aberdeen, and all sorts of different spots. It might even come back for a little time on the West End. And me, I’m going to make a road trip or two to see it, possibly to Southhampton and definitely to Woking. Yep, it’s that good. And if you like musicals, this is one production you won’t want to miss.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. It closes in Wimbledon on February 7. Tour dates follow.)

Anything Goes Tour Dates
9 – 14 February
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
16 – 21 February
Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent
23 – 28 February
The Churchill Theatre, Bromley
3 – 7 March
Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
9 – 14 March
New Theatre, Hull
16 – 21 March
Empire, Liverpool
23 – 28 March
Congress, Eastbourne
30 March – 4 April
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
6 – 18 April
Opera House, Manchester
20 – 25 April
Kings theatre, Glasgow
27 April – 2 May
Orchard Theatre, Dartford
11 – 16 May
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
18 – 23 May
Swan Theatre, High Wycombe
25 – 30 May
Grand Opera House, Belfast
1 – 6 June
Grand Opera House, York
8 – 13 June
Theatre Royal Plymouth
15 – 20 June
Theatre Royal, Nottingham
22 – 27 June
Playhouse, Edinburgh
30 June – 4 July
Grand Theatre, Leeds
6 – 11 July
New Theatre, Cardiff
13 – 18 July
Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
20 – 25 July
His Majesty’s, Aberdeen
3 – 8 August
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin
10 – 15 August
Princess Theatre, Torquay
17 – 22 August
Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth
31 August – 5 September
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
7 – 12 September
New Theatre, Oxford
14 – 19 September
Hippodrome, Birmingham
21 – 26 September
Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes
28 September – 3 October
Empire, Sunderland
5 – 10 October
Hippodrome, Bristol

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