REVIEW: It’s delicious, it’s delightful, it’s de-lovely ... Anything Goes is pretty darned good!

Cole Porter had the innate ability to pack all sorts of songs you never knew you knew into two-and-a-half hours of madcap farce.

By Kevin Janiak
Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 2:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 3:38 pm
Reno Sweeney (Holly Nichol) leads the company in one of the high-octane song-and-dance numbers. Photo:
Reno Sweeney (Holly Nichol) leads the company in one of the high-octane song-and-dance numbers. Photo:

And Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society has the ability to take all that energy and madness and turn it into an exceptionally tight performance, full of sublime musical and comedic performances, from both individuals and groups.

With the increasingly legendary Jeff Thomson at the helm, it’s no wonder that it’s a fantastic show, and the talented cast seem to improve every year.

And with so many strong characters to tackle in this one, they really needed to.

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Moonface and Billy (Daniel Wilson and Jack McAulay) try to pull the wool over Evangeline’s (Lorraine Kemp) eyes. Photos:

Jack McAulay stepped into the shoes of New Yorker Billy Crocker with some ease.

His highlights are the duets with debutante Hope Harcourt, played by the excellent Catriona Lamb, including Easy to Love and It’s De-lovely.

A magnificent portrayal of the bright and brassy showgirl Reno Sweeney sees Holly Nichol step into the limelight, with some superb belters, such as the title song (which you may remember a version of in the opening to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) and the fantastic I Get a Kick out of You, sang with Billy.

However, there is a host of comedic talent as well, which is all the more noteworthy as the actual jokes are set firmly in the 1930s and not particularly funny.

Stealing the show in this respect is James Bennett who portrays Lord Evelyn Oakley in proper Bertie Wooster fashion, and his performance of Gypsy in Me is a comic delight.

Nipping at his heels is the troupe’s go-to comic actor Simon Thomson as the visually-challenged financier Elisha Whitney.

Adding a bit of villainy is the gangster Moonface Martin and his moll Erma (Daniel Wilson and Jess Thomson) who act as the glue knitting together the craziness of it all.

And Hope’s pushy mum Evangeline, played by Lorraine Kemp, is hysterical in more ways than one.

The singing is twinned enthusiastically with some cracking choreography by Marie McCullough, which comes into its own especially in the big numbers sung by the whole cast, such as Anything Goes and Blow, Gabriel Blow ... just fantastic.

The main cast are aided in this respect by a top-quality bunch of dancers, singers and orchestra members who all come together to take the show to another level.

Set mainly on the deck of the SS American, Anything Goes is a visual delight, with the stage representing the deck, the bar, the brig and the ship’s nightclub – the scene changes performed in the flash of an eye by the cast themselves.

There is a slight worry that when you bring Cole Porter’s work to the stage, that there are sometimes echoes of the past we don’t necessarily feel comfortable with ... issues such as misogyny, cultural appropriation, racial stereotyping ... all would be slammed if done the same way in a contemporary play.

It’s not strictly true to say Anything Goes these days.

However, you can’t really do this play without a smidgen of that as it is required to tie up the storyline.

And, let’s face it, it’s all about the songs.

So, switch off your politically-correct radar for the evening, set your toes to tapping mode and head on over to the Volunteer Hall for some guilt-free fun.