Review – ‘Anything Goes’ – Curtain Up Productions

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Unfortunately I couldn’t make the live run, but I was very lucky, having spoken to Susan Warren, the Chairman of Curtain Up Productions, to be offered the chance to go to see the dress rehearsal for the fabulous show ‘Anything Goes’ at the Cleethorpes Memorial Hall and also to take some photos during the performance.

To be honest, when I arrived the venue looked a bit like a very large village hall, but once inside, the stage, although very small (I don’t know how the cast managed in the available space!), had been transformed into a luxury liner, the S.S. American. Thanks to Lee Howson for designing and building the set (with assistance from John Tilby), they did a great job.

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The music and lyrics were from Cole Porter; it’s a very fast paced musical comedy that certainly takes you back to the golden age of high society and includes some of his most iconic songs including ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’, ‘De-Lovely’ and the title song ‘Anything Goes’.  I hadn’t actually realised I knew any of the numbers, but was pleasantly surprised when I could join in to some of the songs.  Jeannine Ridha, a friend from Lincoln Cathedrals production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in 2015, and a long standing member of Curtain Up Productions (her 50th Anniversary next year), was sitting with me, and had actually performed in the same show, also with Curtain Up Productions, on exactly the same date (16th November, her son’s birthday) in 1991.  In fact, the society was the first to be granted the licence to perform this show outside the professional ranks!

Synopsis

The S.S. American was sailing between New York and England, and the story includes a wonderfully colourful ensemble of passengers including:

Reno Sweeney, a popular nightclub singer and former evangelist, (played by Hayley Wrightam, who was also the choreographer for the show!).

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Billy Crocker, (played by Gary Howson), is a lovelorn Wall Street broker who has come aboard to try to win the favour of his beloved…

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…Hope Harcourt (played by Chloe Hallam) who is currently engaged to another passenger…

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…Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Played by Scott Smith).

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Moonfaced Martin (played by Andrew Bailey), a second rate conman, aka ‘Public Enemy #13’, who assists Billy, with the help of Reno, to win Hope’s heart through a variety of comical antics, hilarious and cunning disguises and some good, old fashioned blackmail.

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The other main characters included Mrs Harcourt (played by Ann Forward), Bonnie (played by Sarah Hagerup), Elisha J. Whitney (played by Ian Jones), The Bishop/Captain (played by James Gosling), The Purser (played by Stephen Campbell), Ching and Ling (played by Ieirren O’Hara and Kerry Ward) and The Reporter (played by Fiona Beasley).

Last, but not least, The Angels, played by Kelly White, Gemma Williams, Charlotte Preston, Janine Walker, Kirsty Channon and Sophie Fenty)

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The Angels

What struck me most, from the moment the show started and the cast started making their way through the door in the auditorium to the ‘liner’ was the fabulous costumes.  These were sourced by Scott Smith, a job well done!  Throughout the show there were several costume changes, and not only were they done with speed, they looked sensational.  The whole look of the cast seemed authentic, and gave the impression that you were taken back to a bygone era of luxury and sophistication.  With fur stoles, wide brimmed hats, sparkling sequins and dashing tailored suits, all added to the style, flair and a glorious elegance and sophistication.

I loved the comedic timing; there were some great laugh out loud moments (as I know the cast overheard quite clearly in the dress rehearsal I attended!), the wonderful disguises; beards, wigs, straw hats and tartan rugs all went a long way to fool the audience, and trick the Captain and passengers on board! I also loved the accents, very believable and often, also very funny.

Although all the cast deserve congratulations for a wonderful performance, I particularly wanted to mention Hayley Wrightam.

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Not only did she play the lead role (in which she looked very comfortable), she was also the choreographer.  How she managed to take on both roles I can’t imagine but she pulled both off with great results.  The tap dances were on point, looking and sounding dramatic, as were the bigger dance numbers, where all the cast were together; a visual feast for the eyes, with the dancers using every spare inch of the already small stage!  Well done Hayley and the dancers!

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I can’t complete the review without a mention to the music, the live band of 5 members did a good job:

Led by Keith Weston, Musical Director, Matthew Jeffery on Keyboards, Liz Abe on Bass, Andy Simons on Guitar and Kev Rogers on the Drums.   The music was full of energy and even the ‘in between scenes’ sections, kept the audience uplifted and engaged.

Overall I was really impressed with the look and feel of the whole show and the wonderful singing and dancing.  David Wrightam (Director and Principle of the Class Act Theatre Company), should be proud of what has been achieved by a relatively small group of local performers, many of whom I would imagine, have their own day job or profession and theatre and singing performances are a hobby. Many of the cast certainly wouldn’t look out of place in the West End or Broadway.

I don’t want to say too much more, the only way to really get a feel for the show is to go and see for yourself.  The show runs from Wednesday 16th until Saturday, 19th November 2016;  each evening performance starts at 7.30 with an additional Saturday Matinee at 2.15pm, and if you haven’t got your tickets yet, please hurry as there may still be a chance, buy tickets here!

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@curtainuptweets

@eirajane

(Photos and review by Eira Hammond, for the full photo album click here )

Thanks to Helen Kent for bringing this production to my attention!

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