21/11/2009 - 13/02/2010
ANYTHING GOES at The Court This Summer
One of the world’s greatest musical comedies is going full steam ahead at The Court Theatre, with ANYTHING GOES opening on November 21st.
The bulk of ANYTHING GOES takes place on the U.S.S. American, a luxury cruise liner bound from New York to London. When Billy Crocker (Roy Snow) stows away to pursue a romance with heiress Hope Harcourt (Hannah Wheeler) he sets off a chain reaction of comedic consequences and mistaken identities amongst a collection of missionaries, millionaires, singers, sailors and gangsters.
ANYTHING GOES debuted in 1934, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a script by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, with revisions by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The show was a box-office smash and became one of the longest-running musicals of the 1930s.
Director and choreographer Sandra Rasmussen believes the light-hearted exuberance of ANYTHING GOES makes the show "the perfect choice for the times: fabulous music, hilarity and fun – it brings joy to audiences".
Musical director Richard Marrett has adapted the classic score of ANYTHING GOES to accommodate five musicians (including Marrett in a double role as conductor and pianist) and has found the cast "inspiring" to work with. The show has a personal relevance to Marrett: ANYTHING GOES was the first musical that he played in, launching his career in musical theatre.
With eighteen performers (and one canine) on The Court’s stage, casting was crucial to Rasmussen. "My priority was to find great actors first – people who can take us on an emotional journey with the characters. We were very lucky in that we found people who can act, sing and even complete the rare ‘triple threat’: act, sing AND dance."
For Steven Ray (last on stage in THE PRODUCERS), playing "Public Enemy #13" Moonface Martin in ANYTHING GOES has meant brushing up on his tap-dancing "with help from the younger, fitter cast members". Jude Gibson finds her role as Reno Sweeney an enjoyable contrast to her last role at The Court (a jilted wife in the drama HONOUR) and believes ANYTHING GOES is "a great piece of escapist fun: the perfect cure for the blues".
To match the high-speed hi-jinks of the script, Tony Geddes has designed a set that will allow for rapid shifts in location – from the docks of New York and various locales on board the luxury liner to an English estate. Rasmussen praises Geddes’ "amazing brain that once again solves the Rubik’s cube of staging such a big musical on The Court’s stage".
Artistic Director Ross Gumbley sees ANYTHING GOES as a great production to end 2009: "it’s got a perfect cast, a perfect team and a perfect score."
With strong advance ticket sales, audiences are urged to come aboard ANYTHING GOES and book their tickets before they miss the boat.
- The original production of ANYTHING GOES ran for 420 performances on Broadway and 261 performances on the West End. It has also enjoyed two film adaptations (the first of which, in 1936, starred Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby) and numerous revivals.
- This is the first time ANYTHING GOES has been staged at The Court Theatre.
- The script of ANYTHING GOES underwent numerous revisions and title changes before it was staged, leading to a famous piece of theatre lore in which an exasperated member of the production team exclaimed "And just how in the hell are we going to end the first act?" "At this point," responded one of the producers, "anything goes!"
- Sandra Rasmussen and Richard Marrett have worked together on every musical at The Court since 2006: GUYS AND DOLLS, THE PRODUCERS, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE!
Production Dates: 21 November 2009 – 13 February 2010
Performances: 6pm Monday / Thursday; 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays).
Tickets: Adults $52, Senior Citizens $44, Tertiary Students $32, School Children $25, Group discount (20+) $42
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz
Jude Gibson, Roy Snow, Hannah Wheeler, Jonathan Martin, Steven Ray, Alistair Browning, Amy Straker, Lynda Milligan, Kyle Cheun, Jason Te Mete, Nic Kyle, Claire Dougan, Simon Goudie, Torum Heng, Cassandra McCowan, Rutene Blake Spooner, Marcus Hoetjes, James Buchanan
A spirit lifter
Review by Lindsay Clark 22nd Nov 2009
This wonderfully daffy musical concoction has had folk humming and tapping since it first played in 1934 on Broadway and with its period feel is an even more inviting escape 75 years later. The original book was revisited by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, with a later version still by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. There have been several revivals, two films and countless seasons but the cheerful nonsense and brilliant music at the heart of the show just keep on delivering that surge of theatre joy.
The latest brings the anticipated summer season to The Court with the directorial team acclaimed for their successes in this genre. Sandra Rasmussen as director/choreographer and Richard Marrett as musical director deliver another sizzler. Their understanding of what lights up a contemporary audience charges the whole event, recapturing the slightly delirious abandon of a show where the plot just stops while dance and song have their way.
The story itself is set against the dramatic background of Wall Street and Prohibition, the popular escape fancy for cruises on great luxury liners and the equally frivolous infatuation with celebrities. The mix is heady and not so far from today’s soap material. New York to London is the designated trip on this occasion but the real escape is into the whirl of romance and farce.
Hardly surprising, since we have on board a young stowaway stockbroker, who has abandoned instructions from his wealthy boss (also on board) to follow the girl of his dreams. She of course is engaged to another (on board), an English lord, and is accompanied by her mother (very much on board).
This set of characters offers complications enough but is topped off by the presence of a famous and feisty night club singer /ex-evangelist (sweet on the young man) and an escaping gangster (sweet on dollars). It takes but a full moon and the purser’s gong to trigger the fun.
The creative team has a collaborative enterprise of daunting implications, where costume must not only delight the eye and support the role but also meet the rigours of frenzied dance and robust stage play. The set designer has multiple locations as well as atmosphere to establish in the tap of a toe for we can’t afford to miss a beat in the exhilarating rhythm of this business or for lighting or sound to be out of step. Elizabeth Whiting’s costumes zip through Sandra Rasmussen’s dazzling choreography, including brilliant tap routines, with literally flying colours. Tony Gedddes (set), Brendan Albrey (lighting) and the sound team (Glen Ruske, Geoff Nunn and Andrew Todd) are well up to the challenge and the antics.
All of which brings us to the actors who deserved every decibel of enthusiastic opening night applause. Relishing the role of Reno, night club artiste extraordinaire, best buddy and dynamic dancer, Jude Gibson has the voice and presence to drive the show single handed. She is not called upon to do that though, surrounded as she is by outstanding talent and well honed skill.
As the young stowaway Billy Crocker, Roy Snow is meltingly romantic with a voice to swoon for but he is also well up to the comic business he must deliver, while Hannah Wheeler – a newcomer to Court – as the object of his desire, Hope Harcourt, is as lyrical as it gets: all femininity and effortless soprano.
Jonathan Martin makes a great job of the hapless noble Evelyn Oakleigh, extending to a red hot version of The Gipsy in Me,and Steven Ray as the mishap-prone gangster Moonface ‘There’s- something-wrong-here’ Martin is at his inventive and engaging best. They are matched in other roles by a very strong cast, universally able to operate at full tilt, sing, dance and smile.
All in all a cruise to lift the spirits and confirm the lasting pleasure of a trip, if not on a luxury liner, at least to the theatre this summer.
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