Review: The Rattonians’ production of Anything Goes at the Congress Theatre by Roger Paine

A TRANSATLANTIC liner, the “SS American”, has sailed into Eastbourne en route from New York.

The Rattonians have berthed the ship in the Congress Theatre. On a realistic set with decks, ladders, portholes, and raked funnel dominating the stage, this talented local group board the ship to stage Cole Porter’s popular 1930s musical and give a performance which calls into question their amateur status. Were it not all those involved have day jobs you would be convinced the next stop must be London’s West End. This is not hyperbole. The show is outstanding.

Produced by Mark and Melanie Adams, with Mark directing, and both playing major roles, Eli Whitney and Erma respectively, together with choreography by experienced Jan Lynton, they have brought together a cast of almost sixty who sing and dance their way through classic numbers such as ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re The Top’, ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ and, of course, ‘Anything Goes’.

The performance of the title song, prior to the interval and lasting for over five minutes, led in exuberant style by Debbie Hackett playing nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, was a combination of stunning costumes, vibrant singing and cleverly co-ordinated dancing, including a magnificent tap routine.

The swinging jazz band, sited on the ship’s promenade deck and dressed in sailor’s uniforms, was led by musical director Carl Greenwood, an inspirational contributor to the show’.

Among many fine performances were Alex Adams as stowaway Billy Crocker; Chloe Shearer as his true love, Hope Harcourt; Jade Powers, her mother, Angeline, together with real pet pooch; James Hookway, on-the-run gangster Moonface Martin; and Peter Gurr as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh whose ‘The Gypsy In Me’, with Reno, was a comic gem.

A captivating production which, to quote Billy and Hope in their love duet, was ‘Delightful, Delicious and De-Lovely’!