Director: Chris Burton
PNBHS/PNGHS Production 2018
Review Date 15th March 2018
It seemed appropriate that my theatre companion for PNBHS and PNGHS’s production of Anything Goes should be my own little drama queen teenager. As we sat down in the Speirs centre at 7:30pm she leaned in with some inside information to impart—Half-time is at 9pm—she savagely whispered. Part of me died at the thought of how long I’d be seated in there.
The lights dimmed and off we went to a New York speakeasy bar in the 1930s. Glamour and rich acting talent hit the stage when Reno Sweeney appeared and had me searching my programme in the dark to figure out who was playing the part. It was Katie Atkins who proved to be a real star for the entire voyage through Anything Goes. Combining strong vocals, good dance skills and a confident, natural, acting-style Katie’s light beamed brightly from beginning to end.
Soon the whole set was breathtakingly revealed and in full swing. We were all aboard the S.S American! What a set! Bustling with a crowd of passengers all decked out in 1930s art-deco glamour and accompanied by the band that were already settled in on the deck of the ship, we found ourselves totally on board with the show. As the Ocean Liner prepared to depart, the scene is set for some hilarious on-board antics and many of us were dancing in our seats.
With gangsters, dodgy business men, priests, high society, and low society men and women on board there is a lot to work with in this production, and director Chris Burton has done the lot!
Excellent talent was show-cased on board the S.S American. Digby Werthmuller’s role as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was absolutely spiffing. An audience favourite, Digby’s depiction of Evelyn showed an expert grasp on comedy and brought many a belly laugh forth from a joyful audience. Callum Crawley's depiction of love sick Billy Crocker came to life when he revealed his excellent singing skills. Tender scenes between Billy and high society debutante Hope Harcourt played by Anna Drombroski were delicate and believable. Anna’s ability to act out Hope’s shy emotions was commendable. Anna Orwin-Higgs depiction of wayward gangster’s moll Erma was sublime and packed with sass, her accent impeccable.
There’s too much to say about this production. The band led by musical director Paul Dredge set an excellent atmosphere, the costumes were divine and on point, the set was lively and enjoyable, sound and lighting was smoothly managed and never did I find myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat and wondering when it would be all over. There was tap-dancing, singing, comedy, and dance sailing along at a rate of knots. At half time I felt excited for the second half.
There was an awkward moment... With Anything Goes being created in the 1930’s there are some relics of a bygone era which most of us are pleased to farewell—racial caricatures. I was pleased to see these issues addressed by Director Chris Burton in the beginning of the programme.
All in all I would think that PNGHS and PNBHS have a lot to be proud of with their production of Anything Goes. The S.S. American was absolutely packed with talented young men and women and they took us on a wonderful journey.
I talk and think a lot, here I share the love and the words and the thoughts. Take it or leave it...