Review: Anything Goes at The Liverpool Empire

Posted on 18 March 2015
By Jeanette Smith
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You would think that a show that first saw curtain up in 1934 would be a tad dated. Not a bit of it, this latest incarnation of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes at the Liverpool Empire is a fresh as it gets.

The musical fair zips along with a wonderful set on the SS America, a bright backdrop to the energetic dancing and singing from an accomplished ensemble.

This is a show that doesn’t take itself seriously with many self-effacing and very funny moments. The direction is slick and sassy, with 1930’s costumes to match.

Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Debbie Kurup) rocks the show with her high-energy performance, always on the go. Pretend gangster Billy Crocker (Matt Rawle) is a tour de force as the erstwhile down at heel stockbroker, longing for the girl who is engaged to a lord.

And that girl is the glorious Hope Harcourt, played with verve by sweet-voiced Zoe Rainey. She is due to marry an English guy, Lord Evelyn Oakley, but although her mama is pushing for the match, we all know her heart is not in it.

Cue the longings of lovers with obstacles in their way -Easy to Love and It’s De-Lovely-, with others having their peepers on extra matches.

The American accents suffice and amidst all the razzmatazz and terrific tap dancing, what does it matter!

This is the age of luxury cruising and everyone who is everyone wants to see the old world. We have a mixed bag of passengers, the upper class toffs and the hangers on, who all want to see a celebrity. What’s new! When none is forthcoming the Captain drags up Billy and instead of keeping him in jail elevates him to stardom. All the girls swoon around. A real-life ‘gangster’!

There’s lots of sassiness, especially from good time girl Erma (Alex Young) ‘ knock three times and I’ll show you my sea-legs’.

The Sunday service sees Reno and her Angels in a sultry cabaret – Blow Gabriel Blow – with Reno in a wonderful red showgirl outfit complete with red tail feathers.

The whole show fizzes and zings in a tight production that’s superbly directed by Daniel Evans. The bluesy band, under Nigel Lilley, sets the tone of the era with an evocative jazz trumpet.

This production is a slick with farcical interludes that makes you want to come back and see it all again – bringing your friends. A wonderful pick-me-up!

Purple Revolver Rating: *****I get a kick out of you

At The Liverpool Empire until Saturday March 21

Presented by Stage Entertainment in association with Sheffield Theatres

Tickets: 0844 871 3017