Witham AOS at the Public Hall
A splendid silver fan backdrop stylishly suggested the opulence of the SS American, red white and blue bunting its transatlantic journey.
The silly plot of Anything Goes is eclipsed by Cole Porter's wonderful songs, skilfully handled by this strong cast. Not all the production numbers had the oomph and the energy of Blow Gabriel Blow with its nuns and its scarlet sinners, and the tap-dancing Angels – beautifully dressed – were outweighed by the more statuesque passengers. So it was left to the principals to light up the stage. Particularly successful were David Slater's Lord Evelyn, with his silly-ass accent and his rampant sword, Tom Whelan's Whitney and Stewart Adkin's gravelly Public Enemy #13 – an exemplary musical comedy performance. His “Oima” was an engaging Kath Adkins, who made the most of her Buddie Beware.
Rachel Clapp was a wonderfully watchable Reno; I loved the imaginative mime during You're The Top, just one of her great numbers. Hope Harcourt was played with poise and a nice vocal style by Corrina Wilson; her Billy was Marcus Churchill, who had an easy presence, but a tendency to holler his top notes.
I wasn't alone in finding some of the lighting uncharacteristically gloomy, and the pace and punch the show needs will doubtless pick up as the run goes on. But Cathy Court's production had some lovely touches: the seagulls and the phonograph at the start, the gauze for All Through The Night, the curtain calls which allowed everyone an individual bow, right down to Margot, who played Cheeky with canine aplomb.
The hard-working pit band produced some pleasantly authentic sounds; the Musical Director was Ed Court.