entertainment

Anything Goes review: 'Broadway's Sutton Foster should win every win every award going'

Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay and Felicity Kendal star in the classic musical at London's Barbican Theatre until 31 October.

2021-08-05

Words: Simon Button

There’s a new star in town in the delightful, delicious, de-lovely shape of two-time Tony award winner Sutton Foster.

Making the Atlantic crossing in Anything Goes, the musical comedy that in 2011 won her the second of those two Tonys (the first was for Thoroughly Modern Millie), she arrives bearing gusto, guile, gumption, pizazz, sparkle, shine and… oh, just pick any superlative because they all apply.

Photography: Tristram Kenton

That’s before we’ve even discussed her vocal prowess (the girl sure can belt) and tap-dancing feet, which absolutely dazzle in the six-minute spectacular title number that brings the first act to a euphoric close. And if all this weren’t enough, she sizzles in second act highlight ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’, bringing the house down and the audience to its feet.

Throw impeccable comic timing into the mix and it’s easy to see why Foster is Broadway royalty. Up to now she’s best known over here for the TV comedy Younger but you can bet she’ll win every award going for her West End debut.

Sutton Foster (left) and Robert Lindsay in Anything Goes (Photography: Tristram Kenton)

The role of Reno Sweeney - a good-time gal heading from New York to London during the razzle-dazzle 1930s - was meant this time to go to Megan Mullally but the Will and Grace star had to pull out because of injury. It’d have been interesting to see what might have brought to it, though I imagine she’d have vamped it up more than Foster, who is cooly sexy and slyly seductive rather than full-tilt flirtatious.

Vamping is left to the brilliantly funny Carly Mercedes Dyer as gangster’s moll Erma, who drives the sea men wild, whilst Robert Lindsay is an absolute hoot as hoodlum Moonface Martin, Felicity Kendal is perfectly befuddled as matchmaking mum Evangeline Harcourt, and Samuel Edwards (so good in Xanadu) is fleet of foot and sexiness personified as stowaway Billy Crocker.

Felicity Kendal in Anything Goes (Photography: Tristram Kenton)

The plot, too deliberately convoluted to go into here, is almost Shakespearean in its farcical twists and turns, and under the direction of Kathleen Marshall (who also helmed Foster in the Broadway revival) it belts along at a cracking pace.

Marshall also choreographs one wonderful number after another, the Cole Porter tunes are exquisite, the staging sublime, the sets big and bright - all in service to one of the true classics of musical theatre that, so long as it’s done this brilliantly, will never go out of fashion.

And judging by audience reaction to Sutton Foster’s terrific first tap-dancing steps onto a London stage she’s welcome back any time she chooses to make the crossing again.

Rating: 5/5

Anything Goes is at London's Barbican Theatre until 31 October. For great deals on tickets click here.