12 May 2007

The London Oratory School, Fulham

Stephen Macvicar

Thank you very much for inviting me to WLOS’s production of “Anything Goes” recently at the London Oratory School. Thanks also to Dianne Norton for making the necessary ticketing arrangements.


The S.S. American, sailing from New York to England, carries an unusual group of passengers. Included amongst them are a gangster (Moonface Martin), a wealthy debutante and her mother (Hope and Evangeline Harcourt), a nightclub singer (Reno Sweeny), and a wealthy New York businessman and his stowaway assistant (Elisha Witney and Billy Crocker). It turns out that Hope is Billy’s long-lost love.

Unfortunately, she is now engaged to a wealthy Englishman, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. After a series of comedic happenings, Billy manages to win back Hope. Meanwhile, Billy’s friend, Reno, manages to seduce and win Lord Evelyn. All this happens while Moonface Martin attempts to escape the law and Hope’s mother strives to maintain her social status.

Overview for NODA London Magazine

Wimbledon LOS tackled another old favourite and produced a good result. The problem with this show, and it affects either version, is the crumby script. However the production numbers more than make up for it with Blow, Gabriel Blow about the best on show.

Anything Goes is a very pleasing musical on both the eye and the ear. There is a nice balance and contrast between the big booming production numbers such as ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ and the title song ‘Anything Goes’ and the soothing if slightly insipid love ballads such as ‘Easy to Love’ and ‘All through the Night’. It is of course much more difficult to overcome the obvious flaws in the script. Anything Goes is a very humorous show there is no denying that but many of the Americanisms in the script don’t travel well and the required physical comedy takes great skill to put across effectively. That is where the show lets itself down. As mentioned above, I felt WLOS gave it a really good go under the tender direction of Janice Hackle and assistant Victoria Waddington.

Particular strengths in this production were plentiful. The well travelled set looked good and enabled your Director to make use of the split levels. The choreography of Karen Pulling was relatively simple but suitably elegant. Musical Director Holly Stout produced a good sound from both cast and orchestra. A positive mention for the lads this time, there were some lovely male voices in evidence. Costumes were excellent and plentiful. I particularly liked the black/gold theme for ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ (usually done in red) and the Angels costumes gave them that unusual air of sophistication. The production numbers belted along and none more so than the aforementioned ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ which built and built to a classy, big finish. It was also nice to additional chorus work integrated into principal songs such as Its ‘De-Lovely’.

On the downside, there was very little really. As previously mentioned, some of the physical comedy just didn’t come across particularly well. In particular the various mistaken identities such as Billy as a sailor and scenes involving FBI and reporters etc, were all a bit clumsy. By the time I saw the show, the sailors outfits were badly in need of an iron. I’ll speak about the cast in a moment but other than that I thought it and all technical matters came off swimmingly.

To the cast in programme order;

Reno Sweeney – Elizabeth Hodson – a youthful, sassy portrayal – a great role for Elizabeth. Two particularly nice dresses, the blue satin and the red polka dot.

Billy Crocker – Adam Phillips – nice, solid version of Billy. Perhaps a little lightweight but the part does tend that way. You’re the Top was very strong.

Hope Harcourt – Lucy Wotton – a very pleasant portrayal. Nice vocals but required to go into head voice for Easy to Love.

Lord Evelyn Oakleigh – Stephen Roe – a dream part for Stephen. This role gave him the freedom to display camp humour at its finest.

Moonface Martin – Tim Kimber – a great entrance was followed up with reasonable comic timing. I liked the accent, it reminded me of Spike the bulldog from Tom & Jerry.

Erma – Sarah Catling – looked great in her polka dot dress and Jean Harlow wig. I didn’t think Sarah quite extended herself enough to be given the tag of a typical gangster’s moll. Still impressive though.

Evangeline Harcourt – Eve Manghani – a good portrayal but for me Eve had to be a bit posher to be totally convincing.

Eli Whitney – Al Clogston – with constant cigar in hand and lecherous looks, this was a slightly sleazy version of the role.

Captain – Paul Sadler – Paul donned the traditional Titanic Captain’s white beard and we were in safe hands this time.

Purser – Andrew Thompson – a good fist of a small but important role. His costume was ill-fitting though.

Luke/John – John Huckle/Robin Clifford – these two gentlemen made great fun out of relatively small parts. Most entertaining.

The Rev Henrietta T Dobson – Dianne Norton – a female bishop on this occasion and Dianne carried it off with suitable piety.

The extended dancing and acting Angels all distinguished themselves in whatever they were required to do. The other sub principles and ensemble also contributed to an entertaining show. Well done all at WLOS.

I thoroughly enjoyed your informative and well laid out souvenir programme. The cast photos and ‘in production’ photos were very nice. I would have quite liked to have seen principal photos as well as ensemble but that is just my opinion.

Once again thank you for inviting me to the London Oratory School and best wishes for your next production the delightful “Jack the Ripper”.

I look forward to seeing you again soon and if I can be of any assistance at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kindest Regards

Stephen Macvicar


London Area 3


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