Songs by Cole Porter
Opera House, Manchester
8 April 2015
An entertaining evening of delightful songs and superlative dance, this musical perfectly captures the moment when America segued (nosedived?) from the Jazz Age into the Great Depression. The youthful arrogance and devil-may-care attitude is still there, but it’s waning somewhat.
I found the story – a knockabout farce penned by, among others, P.G. Wodehouse and ending like one of those Shakespeare comedies with multiple weddings – to be quite absurd, but the splendid Cole Porter songs and the spectacular tap dance routines more than made up for it. Debbie Kurup (Reno) and Matt Rawle (Billy), the two leads, were wonderful, absolutely top-notch, and another performer who caught the eye was Stephen Matthews. He played Lord Evelyn Oakley, a Wodehouse-veined English aristocrat, with freshness and real verve. His performance of ‘The Gypsy in Me’, complete with tango steps and a rose between the teeth, was one of the stand-out moments in the show.
It was exhilarating to hear so many Cole Porter standards one after another: ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’, ‘Friendship ‘, ‘Easy to Love ‘, ‘It’s De-Lovely’ and, of course, the title song, ‘Anything Goes’. Many of these songs are rightly admired for their lyric inventiveness and verbal dexterity, but there were several lesser-known gems here too. Of these I’d single out the gospel/Negro Spiritual-tinged ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ – a rollicking number – and the exquisitely poignant lyric of ‘Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye’. There are 19 Cole Porter songs in total in this show, so you are pretty much spoilt for choice. A great night out.
Anything Goes is at the Opera House until 18 April, then tours throughout the UK. Full tour dates can be found here.