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Anything Goes - The Little Theatre Review

Set sail on the SS American for the all-singing, all-dancing Cole Porter classic musical Anything Goes. LOPs (Leicester Operatic Players) stage the show with high energy and endless talent at The Little Theatre.

Delighting audiences the show is a caper full of larger-than-life characters who all cross wires with each other on the crossing of the ship as it embarks from New York to England. The entangled relationships grow only get more entangled as the venture goes on. 

Lizzie Bywater-Florance (Reno Sweeney) and Ellie Newbrooks (Reno Angel). Photo by Dave Morris Photography

One of the key elements of Anything Goes is the big dance numbers, full of tap routines that could sink an amateur production. Choreographer Ellie Newbrooks has done a fabulous job and creates routines that are truly dazzling to watch. The opening number is tap-tastic but it's the titular number that features the entire company and closes the first act and sends you out in the interval feeling elated. It's 5 minutes of complete unadulterated bliss. 

It's not all big dance numbers though, there are plenty of quieter moments for the characters to develop and there are plenty of them to get to know! Central to the piece is Billy Crocker, a wall street broker, who falls for a girl who he has fallen head-over-heels in love with, despite the fact his boss is on board he stows away on the ship in hope of finding the girl. That girl, Hope Harcourt, happens to be engaged to a hapless English lord and we follow as Crocker tries to win hope. 

Throw in Reno Sweeney, a nightclub singer, Moonface Martin, who is Public Enemy #13 and Erma Latour, a typical 'gun moll' character, and you have a wild cocktail of a story that plays out. 

Director Steve Elliott cleverly allows for the grander moments when they're needed but also focuses on the human side of the characters which are fleshed out superbly by the company. Managing to mix comedy, humanity and musical numbers is a tricky task that is managed perfectly in shaping the piece and making the relationships believable. There's a lot going on, especially in the first act, but Elliott navigates that with ease. 

The design is impressive, clearly defining the ship and its various rooms. Costumes are sourced by the cast and they are always right for the feel. It's a great job done in sourcing the variety of outfits, especially the gowns worn by Reno.

Anything Goes comes with Cole Porter's soundtrack which features musical theatre staples including the aforementioned title number but also tracks like 'I Get A Kick Out Of You', 'You're The Top' and 'Blow, Gabriel, Blow'. Musical director Gareth Wynne leads the 9-piece orchestra which excels in playing the score

Natasha Carr (Hope Harcourt) and Martin Green (Billy Crocker). Photo by Dave Morris Photography

Martin Green has a terrifically old-school charm to his performance as Billy Crocker and a great vocal range to go with it. Martin matches well with whoever he is playing off in a scene. Despite any age difference, he has great chemistry with Natasha Carr's Hope Harcourt. Natasha herself is excellent in the role, providing elegance and singing beautifully. 

Russell Webster gives an unforgettable turn as Lord Evelyn Oakley. He delights at every turn throughout and you can feel that the audience is right behind him. He delivers the role with such joy even as his fiancee falls for another man. His interactions with Lizzie Bywater-Florance's Reno are fabulously funny as he bumbles through his notes of expressions often choosing the wrong option. Not only is his comedic work great, but Russell also sings brilliantly. The number 'The Gypsy In Me' is a real showstopper and thinking back to it makes me smile.

Relishing in the comedic element of the role Joshua J Knott delights as Moonface Martin. He is a constant breath of fresh air, boundless in his ease with the script and interacting superbly with everyone with a glint in his eye. Joshua has some great comedic moments, particularly with David Lovell's Elisha Whitney. David who only last week played in The Railway Children doesn't miss a comedic beat, especially with his beloved dog. Karen Hamilton makes an excellent Evangeline Harcourt, her loud expressions are pitched at the right level.

Alexandra Elliott has endless fun as Erma Latour. She oozes the right appeal for the role. Bringing a sense of naughty and another cracking voice that is given full chance to impress in 'Buddie, Beware'.

Taking on Reno Sweeney is no easy job but Lizzie Bywater-Florance makes it look so easy. She fizzes with boundless talent, playing off the characters tremendously, always managing to stay one foot ahead of the game. She is a fabulous dancer leading the large ensemble number such as the titular song with class. Her dancing is first-rate, as is her singing. It's a triple-threat performance in every sense of the phrase. Lizzie is outstanding in the role.

This is truly an ensemble piece and every role has been well cast in terms of performance, dance and vocals. Everyone has their part to play and everyone does it with great heart. Watching the fun everyone is having on the stage is truly infectious.

Anything Goes will fill your heart with joy and you'll leave the theatre with an extra boost to your step. It's a shame to disembark from this wonderful production. As the lyrics go "it's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely". Grab a ticket and set sail, you don't want to miss this ship.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Anything Goes by LOPs plays at The Little Theatre in Leicester until Saturday 22nd April. Tickets are available from Find out more about LOPs on their Facebook page

Russell Webster (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) and Natasha Carr (Hope Harcourt). Photo by Dave Morris Photography.

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