Anything Goes – Manor Musical Theatre Company ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Anything Goes – Manor Musical Theatre Company
Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
Tuesday 7th May 2024 – Dress Rehearsal
By Nigel Gambles
Photography – Studio 55 Photography

Manor Musical Theatre Company have done themselves proud. Anything Goes, this year’s production of choice is a superb showcase of rich talent and enduring passion. Overseen by the Directors, Pam & James Garrington,  the production is confident, powerful and brimming with enthusiasm and joy.

It is also packed with transporting, clever Porter classics: I Get a Kick Out of You; You’re the Top; It’s De-Lovely.

Set on an ocean liner the SS American, bound from New York to London, Anything Goes follows the madcap antics of those on board. Central is Billy Crocker, a charming young stowaway who has fallen in love with wealthy heiress Hope Harcourt (played by Sasha Barnes), who is already engaged to an English aristocrat Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (played by Matt Cotter). Crocker is played expertly by Dan Barnes, while Leigh-Ann James effortlessly embodies Reno Sweeney, a nightclub singer who assists Billy in his bid to win Hope’s heart.

Paul Wescott as public enemy number 13 – Moonface Martin showing his  comic side gives an easygoing, shoulder-rolling, soft-shoe-shuffling performance as low-league criminal Moonface Martin that reminds you what a pro he is. His duet with Leigh- Ann James on the song Friendship is a playful delight

Sasha Barnes provides an outstanding rendition of Harcourt. Her acting style is sensitive, congenial and expressive, providing her scenes with sophistication and warmth. Dan Barnes’s rendition of Crocker is rich with boyish charm and a strong sense of fun.

Sarah Watts is a sultry Erma , who is having a ball playing the ships sailors  off against one another for her hand in marriage, while also warning them that she is not easily pleased. Sarah is  amusing, endearing and unsettling in her command of young men’s hearts.

Also strong is Paul Stewart, playing the Ship’s Captain, his performance is very assured. Mary Singh, who plays the Ship’s Purser, offering a comedic and charismatic performance.

But the best songs and the biggest moments belong to Leigh-Ann James as Reno and she knocks them out the park

While the acting quality is compelling across the whole cast, this is a musical, and the musical facet of this production is exquisite thanks to musical director Peter Bushby. The orchestra lays on melodious accompaniment throughout, which makes the actors’ and actresses’ performances shine all the more. Sound and lighting move in tandem with the onrushing of the plot, guiding the production from each set-piece scene to the next. The setting of an ocean liner is great in its design, owing to the diligent work of stage manager Lewis Wescott and the back stage team

Perhaps most striking in this production is the use of dance, choreographed skillfully by Isabelle Larkin. The professionalism and passion each cast member demonstrates is truly stirring, with evident care made to ensure a smooth run. Each radiant scene glides into the next, moving with water’s easy tread and supple fluidity. The dancing scenes are elegant, and subtle yet profound – they are in their execution quite simply excellent.

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