music and lyrics by Cole Porter original book by P G Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse new book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman.
Tour to 5 September 2015.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 December.
A smooth, classy journey.
Anything can go wrong on the way to an opening night, as with Cole Porter’s 1934 musical. English writers P G Wodehouse and Guy Bolton had concocted a story of gambling adventures aboard a ship which then sunk. Two days before rehearsals began, a pleasure-cruiser did sink near New York, with 135 fatalities. The musical comedy suddenly became tasteless, box-office poison.
Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse were quickly drafted in (a quarter-century later, still working together, they booked The Sound of Music). Stage and screen revivals have re-assorted Porter’s songs and rewritten the book, leading to the show Sheffield presents, and will tour.
Though co-reviser John Weidman has worked extensively with Stephen Sondheim, he’s true to the frivolity of thirties musicals, where frankly no-one gives a damn so long as the story regularly cues a Porter number. The story of financial dealings, gangsters in disguise and a fiancée who discovers she’d rather be someone else’s bride, is upfront hokum, with enough intrigue to tease the mind over how it’ll come right in the end, encouraged by matinee idol and leading lady glamour and verve.
And an ensemble who really can, lie Daniel Evans’, face the music and dance as Alistair David’s choreography swings things along. The first, by some way longer, act has most of the big ensemble hoofing and big Porter tunes – ‘I Get A Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’ and the title song included, while the second hurries the plot along in generally more subdued manner.
The amplified singing sounds smooth, the acting is just what’s needed to present two-dimensional characters going through their paces, with everything from maternal worries to gangster shenanigans cut to comic proportions. Young people are romantically vulnerable, older ones comically unaware of what’s happening around them. And the big dance numbers raise the roof.
Outstandingly with Debbie Kurup’s Reno, the lady who swings with gangsters and society, the one who sees all, helps others and knows what she wants. Vibrant of voice and personality, she needs no orchestra to dance: just watch her tap routines. Kurup travels first class all voyage.
Reno Sweeney: Debbie Kurup.
Hope Harcourt: Zoë Rainey.
Evangeline Harcourt: Jane Wymark.
Lord Evelyn Oakleigh: Stephen Matthews.
Elisha Whitney: Simon Rouse.
Billy Crocker: Matt Rawle.
Moonface Martin: Hugh Sachs.
Erma: Alex Young.
Luke: Nick Len.
John: Andy Yau.
Ship’s Captain: Bob Harms.
Ship’s Purser: Adam Dutton.
Purity: Victoria Hinde
Chastity: Michelle Andrews.
Charity: Lauren Jade.
Virtue: Anouska Eaton.
Lady in Wheelchair/Passenger: Joanna Lee Martin.
Fred the Bartender/FBI Agent/Sailor: Ryan Pidgen.
Henry T Dobson/Sailor: Rohan Richards.
Reporter/Sailor: Adam Rhys-Charles.
Reporter/Sailor: Michael Ln.
FBI Agent/Sailor: Dylan Mason.
Passenger: Rebecca Jayne-Davies.
Director: Daniel Evans.
Designer: Richard Kent.
Lighting: Tim Mitchell.
Sound: Simon Baker.
Musical Supervisor: Nigel Lilley.
Musical Director: Tom Brady.
Choreographer: Alistair David.
Dialect coach: Richard Ryder.
Wigs/Hair/Make-up: Carole Hancock.
Assistant director: Harry Williams.
Assistant choreographer: Victoria Hinde.
29 Jan-7 Feb Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 5 Feb 2.30pm Captioned 5 Feb 7.30pm New Wimbledon Theatre 0844 871 7646 www.atgtickets.com/
9-14 Feb 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Waterside Theatre Aylesbury 0844 871 7607 www.atgtickets.com/
16-21 Feb 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Regent Theatre Stoke-on-Trent 0844 871 7649 www.atgtickets.com/
23-28 Feb 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Churchill Theatre Bromley 0844 871 7620 www.atgtickets.com/
3-7 Mar 7.30pm Mat Wed, Thu 2pm; Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Thu 2pm; BSL Signed Sat 2.30pm; Captioned Fri Alhambra Theatre Bradford 01274 432000 www.bradford-theatres.co.uk
9-14 Mar 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm New Theatre Hull 01482 300300 www.hullcc.gov.uk/…/hullnewtheatre
16-21 Mar 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Empire Theatre Liverpool 0844 871 3017 www.atgtickets.com
23-28 Mar 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Congress Theatre Eastbourne 01323 412000 www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk
30 Mar-4 Apr 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2pm Mayflower Theatre Southampton 023 8071 1811 www.mayflower.org.uk
6-18 Apr 7.30pm Mat Thu, Sat & 8 Apr 2.30pm Audio-described 9 Apr 7.30pm; BSL Signed 16 Apr 7.30pm Opera House Manchester 0844 871 3018 www.atgtickets.com/
20-25 Apr 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm King’s Theatre Glasgow 0844 871 7648 www.atgtickets.com/
27 Apr-2 May 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Orchard Theatre Dartford 01322 220000 www.orchardtheatre.co.uk
11-16 May 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Wed 2.30pm & 7.30pm; BSL Signed Thu Royal & Derngate (Derngate auditorium) Northampton 01604 624811 www.royalandderngate.co.uk
18-23 May 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Wycombe Swan Theatre High Wycombe 01494 512000 www.wyombeswan.co.uk
25-30 May 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Grand Opera House Belfast 028 9024 1919 www.goh.co.uk
1-6 June 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Grand Opera House York 0844 871 3024 www.atgtickets.com/
8-13 June 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Plymouth (The Lyric) 01752 267222 www.theatreroyal.com
15-20 June 7.30pm Mat Wed 2pm; Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Nottingham 0115 989 5555 www.trch.co.uk
22-27 June 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Edinburgh Playhouse 0844 871 3014 www.atgtickets.com/
30 June-4 July 7.30pm Mat Wed, Thu, Sat 2.30pm Grand Theatre Leeds 0844 848 2700 www.leedsgrandtheatre.com
7-11 July 7.30pm Mat Wed, Thu, Sat 2.30pm New Theatre Cardiff 029 2087 8889 www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk
13-18 July Grand Theatre Wolverhampton 01902 429212 www.grandtheatre.co.uk
20-25 July 7.30pm Mat Thu 2pm; Sat 2.30pm His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen 01224 641122 www.aberdeenperformingarts.com
3-8 Aug 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Dublin 0818 719377 www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
10-15 Aug 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Princess Theatre Torquay 0844 871 3023 atgtickets.com
17-22 Aug 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Pavilion Theatre Bournemouth 0844 576 3000 www.bournemouthpavilion.co.uk
31 Aug-5 Sept 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm New Victoria Theatre Woking 0844 871 7645 www.atgtckets.com