Our sensational all-singing, all-dancing musical production, Anything Goes, performed to packed houses on 7-9 March 2018. The school hall was transformed into a theatre and the stage into a ship complete with portholes, cabin rooms, bunk beds, a nightclub and a brig. The report below has been adapted with thanks from a review by Shakespearen and TV actor, Ian Cullen, who came to the Friday night performance. Use the link at the bottom to see some brilliant photos of the show.
On arrival at the theatre the anticipatory buzz of excitement in the packed auditorium gave promise of a vibrant and entertaining evening. The colourful and energetic opening chorus of ‘Anything Goes’ was greeted like a familiar old friend, and what fun it must have been for the youngsters and children who were hearing this rousing golden oldie for the first time. The curtain opened to reveal a stunning and elaborate setting, with the stage dominated by a massive ship, peopled with a lively singing, dancing and colourfully-costumed ensemble. From there the story unfolded at a brisk and confident pace, with the somewhat flimsy, but always amusing plotline, providing an excuse for one evergreen Cole Porter classic after another. One could almost feel large sections of the audience wanting to sing along to the timeless numbers, ‘I get a Kick out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’, ‘Friendship’ , ‘Blow Gabriel Blow,’ and the wonderful ‘Gypsy in Me’. It was easy to forget how young the cast were as they performed with all the discipline and confidence of well-trained professionals.
Many girls helped backstage in make-up, costume and props and worked tirelessly to create the 1930s iconic fashion and glitzy atmosphere. Congratulations to Dr Jo Russell and Mrs Ludivine Fitzwater and their teams for sourcing or making so many colourful and immaculately authentic period costumes complemented by make-up, hair and props; to Mrs Laura Evans-Jones (Producer) and her technical team for the innovative lighting, sound and staging; and Miss Polly White and the backstage crew who handled the complex scene changes apparently effortlessly.
The inspired stage extension allowed the 12-piece accompanying jazz band to sit amidst the cast and this worked to powerful and dramatic effect enabling the actors/leads to bring the action and music even further downstage. The band, made up of students, staff and professional musicians, provided the swinging tempo and rhythm of Cole Porter’s much-loved songs under the expert baton of Musical Director, Dr Ian Taylor and ably supported by music teachers, Miss Lucy Warwick and Mr Joe Adams.
Overall, the most memorable impression was of the commendable enthusiasm and commitment displayed by every single person on and off the stage. Performances aside, all credit to Mrs Helen de Mattos for her creative and highly-disciplined direction, which was enhanced by the scintillating and ever-entertaining choreography of Mrs Claire Peilow. With this loving revival of a ninety-year-old but timeless and life-affirming classic, cast and crew more than upheld Farnborough Hill’s reputation for outstanding musical productions. If Cole Porter was watching, I’m sure he would happily endorse and echo my heartfelt “Well-done to all concerned!”