Anything Goes: A witty hit in 1934, a witty hit today

Premiered on Broadway in 1934, it was an instant hit and continues to be revived to great acclaim, in spite of the two tepid film versions starring Bing Crosby.

Its rightful home is the stage and director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall’s production, first seen on Broadway in 2011, is outstanding. Set onboard a liner travelling from New York to England, it is a romantic comedy involving two couples, a farce involving mistaken identities, a satire on celebrity culture and a musical with tap-dancing sailors.

There is also a show within a show as shipboard entertainer Reno Sweeney (Sutton Foster) and her quartet of Angels put on an act that wouldn’t disgrace the Folies Bergere.

Felicity Kendal is a kind of cousin to Lady Bracknell as Evangeline Harcourt, trying to encourage the marriage of her daughter Hope (Nicole-Lily Baisden) to the twittish Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Haydn Oakley) while fending off advances from ageing Wall Street financier Elisha Whitney (Gary Wilmot).

To complicate matters, Robert Lindsay’s ‘Noo Joisy’ gangster Moonface Martin (“Public Enemy Number 13”) and Erma (Carly Mercedes- Dyer), the naughtiest girl on the ship, become entangled in the Shakespeare-like frolics.

In her UK debut, Broadway star Sutton Foster exudes a Kathleen Turner raunchiness in the role in which she first played, sang and danced her way to a Tony Award 10 years ago.

It’s the kind of show that conjures images of white tie and tails, tight slinky dresses and champagne cocktails.

Barbican Theatre until October 31, tickets: 


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