When a university performing arts society took on a thorough product of its time… and managed to really make something out of it!
As good as the song numbers are, it’s hard to deny that there are stronger stories than Anything Goes. It does simply put a classic rom-com formula on cruise ship: not to mention the added baggage of a strange criminal subplot.
However, when Performing Arts Winchester picked up the rights, they certainly made the best of it to put on a lavish show. Embracing its old-fashioned elements with open arms, they successfully evoked what made 50s theatrical cinema so iconic. The strong ensemble cast looked straight from one of Jimmy Stewart’s parties, with voices that had been well-practised in capturing the classic musical theatre sound. Combine this with large, elaborate dance pieces and an expensive set that held up a full brass-led band and you have one classy production.
The only major issue that stood out was the dated gags. As charming as old-fashioned can be, it can also be racial stereotypes. Performers playing Chinese boys was quite uncomfortable; American characters impersonating them made it a little worse. It’s a product of its time, but an alteration here would have overcome this issue. Whilst the audience, myself included, really enjoyed it, some of these jokes met little laughs.