Anything Goes is an American musical, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Renowned for its jazzy tunes, toe-tapping routines and romantic plot, it has been performed and celebrated all over the world in both professional and community productions. Its memorable songs and high-brow humour have made it a staple in the musical theatre world since its Broadway debut in 1934.
Babirra Theatre Company have just begun their eight show run of Anything Goes at the Whitehorse Centre in Nunawading, and have delivered on all fronts in putting on what is a fantastic show that is not to be missed for those that love a spectacle!
Right from the first number, the well-known ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’, the cast are in fine form. Sharon Wills is fantastic in her portrayal of Reno Sweeney, and delivers the role with both class and comedy. Adam Bianco and Olivia Fildes are great as the romantic pairing of Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt, both displaying skilful acting as well as strong vocal skills. Also notable are Adam Jon, Ben Moody and Emily Mignot in their roles of Evelyn Oakleigh, Moonface Martin and Erma. Jon, Moody and Mignot showcase great comedy skills throughout both acts, and are able to keep the audience laughing with their comedic timing and amusing one-liners. The rest of the cast, both supporting and ensemble also do a fantastic job in vocals, characterisation and dance, and are to be commended for their talents.
Tyler Hess and the costume team do an outstanding job in staying true to the early 1930’s setting of Anything Goes, while adding a vibrancy and detail that goes above and beyond. Everything from Moonface Martin’s mobster style suit, through to the stunning era-true dresses worn by the female cast members, the ship’s crew stripes sported by the male ensemble, plus a whole lot more, everything shows fantastic colour and design, and Hess and the team have done a great job in all aspects of costume work for the show.
Sets and lighting are a standout element of Babirra’s Anything Goes. Set designer Craig Wiltshire and the construction team have crafted what is a big-scale, detailed and wonderful set, that is able to capture the shows settings in tremendous fashion. Everything from the upper decks used to display the ship’s outer, to a small Manhattan bar that is the setting for the opening number, the elements and detail are on show here. Especially notable is the use of projections to transition the scenes from a bar, to a prison, to a moonlit night, and more. All of these fantastic sets are complimented by a great lighting scheme designed by Brad Alcock. The colours and movements of the lighting flow beautifully, and match the moods of the scenes quite well. Notably impressive is the use of a sharp red lighting scheme for the Night Club scene, which opens Act 2.
Anything Goes features a number of well-known songs that are instantly recognisable for any theatre lover. Its smooth, jazzy soundtrack is played well by Anthony Barnhill and his orchestra, who are precise and sound great. There were a few moments where the audio mix wasn’t quite right, and the band were a few notches higher than the cast members, causing a few lines of a song to be missed until the balance was found. This is minor compared to a performance where sound was impressive overall, and it was in the little details such as ocean winds, or the water drops of being in a ship’s prison, where Steve Cooke’s sound design really shines.
Hess also took on the role of director, and does a great job in all elements of characterization, comedy, tenderness and relatability, bringing out the best in what is clearly a talented cast. Hess’ direction work is complimented well with Wiltshire’s choreography. The dance numbers are big in their energy, tight in their precision, and stunning in their scale. The show features a number of tap routines, one of which is a show-stopping spectacle that closes out Act 1 amazingly. Also done well is the routine for the number ‘Buddy Beware’, which features Mignot and male ensemble cast members performing what is a tough song dance-wise, performed effortlessly.
It’s clear Babirra take pride in their work, and Anything Goes is absolutely a production the team should be proud of. Everyone involved should be congratulated for putting on what is a fantastic show that sets a great example for the community theatre stage. Don’t miss out on catching this excellent and well-crafted show, which will keep you thrilled and engaged throughout. Once again, well done to the outstanding cast, and the team at Babirra.