I’m a self-confessed musical theatre nerd. I am not saying that I know every musical out there but I have performed in my fair share and seen pretty much all of the well-known ones that the West End has to offer. The St Andrews musical theatre scene is always diverse and now it is the turn of Anything Goes to grace The St.Age.
A young Wall Street broker, Billy Crocker, is preparing to say goodbye to his good friend Reno and boss Elisha at the dock on a ship headed for London when he spies the girl with whom he has fallen in love at first sight boarding the same vessel. He soon learns that she is Hope Harcourt, an heiress engaged to be married to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, a stuffy English nobleman. In a bid to convince Hope to marry him and break off her engagement, Billy becomes a stowaway aboard the SS American. What ensues is a series of hilarious costume changes as Billy and his new friend Moonface (public enemy #13) avoid getting caught and continue his mission of getting the girl.
“Anything Goes is such a well-known show, even if you don’t know the musical itself, the title song is instantly recognisable.” Grace Reid, one of the musical directors, believes it has a lot to offer; “It is a musical for the generations and what everyone thinks of when you imagine a musical, the toe tapping jazzy numbers with a Frank Sinatra-esque vibe. The great thing about the songs is that Cole Porter really tries to make use of the ensemble with harmonies and massive dance numbers.”
Huge numbers can often be a daunting thing for a musical director but Ms Reid and Lavie have taken it in their stride. Having a male and female musical director partnership means that there is no part which will suffer. The biggest challenge for Ms Reid is contending with all the different rhythms and parts within just one song and making sure that every part is perfectly in time with one another and the band.
What is really exciting about this musical is that the Just So Society get to use a full band to accompany their musical numbers. For Marcella Denby, the director, the music is really what sells the show. We will for sure not be short of jazz hands and showstoppers with this production.
Although always impressive, the dance element for this one is taking the Just So Society talent pool to exciting new heights with an entire tap number. As someone who has done three years of tap training in the past, I am well aware of the challenges that a tap number can present for a trained dancer, let alone complete beginners, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.
In rehearsal I was able to observe Caroline McWilliams, the show’s producer, teach a partner routine. Partner dancing was something that Ms Denby was very keen to include in this show: “I remember doing a lot of partner dances back in High School and it was definitely something that the last few musicals have been lacking. I’m so glad that we are now getting an opportunity to do this.”
This is Ms Denby’s directorial debut with the Just So Society, having been a cast member in previous productions, and she is really putting her stamp on the role. One thing that was abundantly clear when I spoke to Ms Denby was her inclusivity aim —the show boasts a 20-person cast and a large production team. “There are so many talented people in St Andrews and I wanted to give even more of them an opportunity to get involved and create a crew. A lot of the people who auditioned were also keen to help out in whatever way they could and I love that!”
The audition process for Anything Goes saw the largest amount of auditionees yet with 72 students going along to show the team what they could do and the standard was high. Billy, is being played by Connor Norris —you may have seen him in the University St Andrews Opera Society performances. The cast has some new faces in addition to the Just So regulars which is really nice to see.
Knowing a bit about the musical already, I was really excited to find out how Ms Denby and the costume team were planning on dressing the production and they are definitely not going to disappoint. “The theme is red, white and blue with some gold thrown in there”. Channelling ‘30s glamour with a classic slick of red lipstick, some of the cast were actually in fitting at the Barron whilst I was at rehearsal — it is going to be interesting to see how that all comes together, miles away from the offerings of the production calendar last year.
Anything Goes is hoping to appeal to all ages, town and gown alike, whether it is seeing an adaptation of a musical that is so dearly loved or discovering it for the first time. It is a feel-good musical filled with romance and giggles. Go to escape deadlines and the stress of everyday life to settle in for the ultimate classic musical experience.
Anything Goes will be performed on 7, 8, and 9 November at the St.Age. Be sure to get your tickets so you can “get a kick” out of it too!