……BY BILLY SUTER……
FANS of musicals simply have to take a picnic basket and be at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo for the 6.30pm start on Wednesday (March 30) of the final screening of the spectacular, often hilarious and quite wonderful, filmed-live London stage production of the award-winning Anything Goes .
It’s so good I could easily sit through it again!
Filmed live on stage at London’s Barbican Theatre in October last year, this is the acclaimed revival of the classic Cole Porter musical which, when it was tweaked and revived on Broadway in 2011, led to Sutton Foster (of TV’s Younger) winning her second Best Lead Actress in a Musical Tony Award. The 47-year-old’s first Tony was for her lead role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, in 2002.
Sutton – currently on Broadway starring alongside Hugh Jackman in a revival of The Music Man – reprises her lead role for the replica London production of Anything Goes, playing spunky evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney.
Reno is a gal with eyes on a Wall Street broker, Billy Crocker (a standout Samuel Edwards), who happens to have eyes on another – Hope, an American debutante.
As fate would have it, all three, without each other knowing at first, end up aboard a ship where a convoluted and comical story unfolds. It’s a tale of mistaken identity and mixed-up love, all wrapped up in some of the finest of Porter songs, among them You’re the Top, D’lovely and I Get a Kick Out of You.
Beautifully directed and superbly choreographed by Broadway multi-award-winner Kathleen Marshall, who also wore these caps for the 2011 production, this show has earned rave reviews that have included The Telegraph labelling it “the show of the year” and The Guardian calling it “a fizzing tonic for our times’.
First performed on Broadway in 1934 when it starred Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney, the musical, over the years, has also featured such crowd-pleasers as Patti LuPone and Elaine Paige. Foster, also seen on Broadway as Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical, certainly holds her head up high with the very best!
She is an endless delight as Reno, excelling vocally, as an actress and with her deft and highly energetic dancing, in a show shimmering with excellence.
Thrown into the mix of a wild romp highlighting loads of witty, catchy songs and much comic dialogue are such oddball characters as a wealthy, somewhat effete and eccentric Englishman; a second-rate gangster called Moonface Martin (played with aplomb by Robert Lindsay, star of BBC TV’s My Family), and a flirty and helium-voiced pal of Moonface.
We also get tap-dancing sailors and showgirls; two ‘reformed’ gangsters with a cunning plan; a bewildered reverend; and a poor-sighted investment banker (Gary Wilmot) who has eyes for Hope’s dramatic and increasingly flustered mother, played by Felicity Kendall, star of that old BBC series, The Good Life.
Anything Goes is a truly joyous treat and one must tip a hat to Roland Stansell, manager of The Rhumbelow Theatre franchise, for bringing it to Durban at the same time it is bring shown on screens elsewhere in the world (outside of the UK). The first and only other local screening was yesterday (Sunday, March 27).
Stansell’s investment in sophisticated new sound equipment and a large new screen that extends the full width of the Rhumbelow Theatre stage is a good move. Good, because the theatre’s usual run of live shows is not as regular as it used to be, he expains. He adds that this is due, in no small part, to entertainers often being forced to take alternative employment to make ends meet as a result of Covid-19 chaos.
A feast of cinema – both filmed-live performances and classic movies of yesteryear – has been lined up for the Umbilo Rhumbleow Theatre in coming weeks.
Called the Rhumbelow Easter Film Festival, it will run from April 14 to 18. This is the programme:
THU, 14/04 at 6.30pm: The Full Monty
FRI ,15/04 at 2pm: The Jungle Book (animated original)
FRI, 15/04 at 6.30pm: Cats (stage recording)
SAT, 16/04 at 2pm: Blackbeard’s Ghost ‘’60s classic with Peter Ustinov)
SAT, 16/04 at 6.30pm: Saturday Night Fever (John Travolta classic)
SUN, 17/04 at 2pm: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Julie Andrews)
SUN, 17/04/2022 at 6.30pm: Oklahoma! (digitally restored)
MON, 18/04/2022 at 2pm: Mary Poppins (the classic original film)
MON, 18/04/2022 at 6.30pm: Moulin Rouge!
Tickets for Rhumbelow movies cost R100 each and seating is at tables, in line with Covid-19 protocols. One may take along a picnic basket of snacks (or buy light meals at the venue). Note that no beverages may be brought along as a bar is available at the theatre.
Booking is essential. Call 082 499 8636 for more information.