ANYTHING Goes was once described as ‘the musical equivalent of sipping one glass of champagne after another.’

Of course, our wealthy Cabinet Minister George Eustice suggests our financial positioning is such that we should restrict ourselves to a dandelion and burdock and own-brand supermarket tins lifestyle.

But if that’s the case, it almost makes seeing this Cole Porter musical an absolute essential. We need joy in our lives, don’t we? We need escape. So, why not take to sea with the SS American and wallow in this story re-written by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.

It tells of two unlikely pairs who set a course to find true love. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who happens to be engaged to the mad-as-a-boat-full-of-frogs Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Meanwhile, nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy Number 13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. Add to that a love triangle, mistaken identity, bad disguises, clever wordplay and resplendent deco designs. And of course, some toe-tapping sailors and lots of shimmying.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. You’re not going to be drowned by the weight of a complicated plot. Indeed, it’s as floaty and light as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s dismissal of his Cinderella cast.

But the real point of Anything Goes is the notionally more peripheral characters, particularly the sassy evangelist-turned-singer Reno Sweeney, who is the show’s lead by default because she gets all the big songs.

During this Atlantic crossing you can wallow in the songs of Cole Porter such as Anything Goes, I Get a Kick Out of You and You’re the Top.

So, if you like singing sailors, tap dancing and some good old-fashioned blackmail you will most likely go home delighted.

The show also boasts a powerful cast. Kerry Ellis (Wicked) stars as Reno Sweeney, Denis Lawson plays Moonface, Simon Callow is Elisha Whitney and Bonnie Langford plays Evangeline Harcourt.

And keep this in mind; the plot certainly focuses on those mad keen to fall in love but doesn’t rely on the matchmaking. It’s also a story about friendship, about people realising they are all on the same boat who need to pull together.

Last year Anything Goes smashed multiple Box Office records at London’s Barbican Theatre including the single highest grossing performance week for a musical in the Barbican’s 39-year history and the highest sales across a weekend for a musical.

First seen on Broadway in 1934, Anything Goes premiered at a time when audience members lucky enough to afford a trip to the theatre were in desperate need of some light relief from the grim realities of the Great Depression.

See this show and the dandelion and burdock won’t taste half as bad.

Anything Goes, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, May 11 to 15.


WAY back in 1970, the British public faced an array of challenges. Ted Heath sailed in as Prime Minister, strikes were rife, and the Beatles flicked each other V signs, the band’s internal strife seemingly worse than that of Harold Wilson’s government.

But, unknown to you and me, curious playwright Michael Frayn was watching from the wings a production of his farce. The Two of Us starred Richard Briers and Lynn Redgrave at the Garrick Theatre and Frayn realised that seeing the actors dashing between the different doors backstage was all far funnier from behind than it was out front.

He grasped that the thin line between order and chaos in the theatre was ripe for exploration. And exploitation.

And so, in his mind at least, the journey to write what would become the classic Noises Off began. Noises Off (a theatrical term meaning distracting sounds in a stage production that are not supposed to be there) chronicles the hilarious slapstick capers of a touring theatre company as they stumble along, from rehearsals to opening night, through a farcical fictitious play called Nothing On.

As we know, theatre doesn’t always run with the smooth efficiency of a Porsche. Sometimes it’s an old Skoda, that leaks oil from the sump and barely gets you home. But that can prove exciting too, can’t it?

But it’s not all about slapstick, pratfalls and doors slamming into faces. The play cleverly parodies the fragility of the acting profession, those desperate to be loved, or even to be taken seriously. And if you think that Frayn’s concept, which premiered at the Lyric in Hammersmith in 1982, may appear dated just look at the success of its successor, the quite brilliant The Play That Goes Wrong, and its offspring.

The timing in bringing Noises Off back 40 years on is just about perfect.

Noises Off, Pitlochry Festival Theatre May 27-October 1.