CARNOUSTIE Musical Society find it hard to believe that Cole Porter didn’t write the part of Reno Sweeney in their latest hit show, ‘Anything Goes’, especially for Violet Thomson, and I have to agree!
From her first appearance as she boards the ocean liner SS American with her four ‘Angels’, Violet owns it lock stock and barrel, holding the audience in the palm of her hand.
Nightclub singer and former evangelist Reno’s entourage of backing angels add delight: Chastity (Jane Fenton), Charity (Natalie Dalziel), Purity (Claire Smith) and Virtue (Wendy Smith).
Their halos sparkle throughout the show with some fantastic dance moves, in particular the energetic ‘Heaven Hop’ which not only showcases the dance talents of these four young women and the remaining female cast, but also the creativity of the show’s choreographer, Lynsey Ellen Faulkner.
Bonnie, played brilliantly by newcomer to the society Jane McNamara, is a key part of the ‘Heaven Hop’ sequence, leading the singing and dancing, and this talent is topped only by her truly fantastic New York accent – hilariously funny and word perfect!
The male lead in the show, Billy Crocker, is played to perfection by accomplished performer Kevin Smith, who has grown with each production. ‘You’re the Top’ – the show’s opening number and a fantastic duet between Billy and Reno sets the scene.
In years gone by, Kevin’s love interest on stage has been played by his real-life wife, Claire, but this year Claire has joined the ‘angels’! Katy Mackintosh as Hope Harcourt kept Billy’s interest, and their duet ‘All Through the Night’ is a powerful number as they struggle to find a way to stay together. Hope’s mother, Mrs Wadsworth T. Harcourt, played by Liz Pardoe, is determined to keep them apart. Liz, who has a stunning voice, also played this role in 1995.
Billy is with his boss, Elisha J. Whitney, a Wall Street executive with a penchant for cocktails played by Neil Watson, who spends much of the show wandering across the stage with a glass in his hand.
‘Anything Goes’ is a comedy, and no Carnoustie Musical Society production would be complete without their resident comedians, Rodger Brunton and Brian Boyd.
Rodger plays a third-rate gangster, Moonface Martin, Public Enemy No. 13, who boards the SS American with his moll, Bonnie, disguised as a minister. He gets muddled up in a variety of schemes and scams, getting his new friend Billy involved. Their performance of ‘Friendship’ with Reno was five-star.
Brian plays Sir Evelyn Oakley, a stuffy and hapless English nobleman, who has set sail for England to marry his fiancée Hope. Reno has other ideas – she has set her heart on getting him for herself – this proves to be a great source of hilarity as she tries to ‘get friendly’ with Sir Evelyn.
In ‘Let’s Misbehave’ Brian and Violet have the audience in kinks of laughter – it is amazing how they manage to keep a straight face themselves!
Dave Soutar is an all important ‘bit-part’ actor, who turns up in nearly every scene, with roles from Minister to purser to chorus member.
Laurie Smith plays the captain of the SS American with his usual splendour; Gary Cavanagh and Lesley Ritchie open the performance with their media coverage of the liner setting sail from New York; and there are Ching and Ling, two Chinese students with a passion for gambling, played by Gemma Cox and Kerry Mitchell.
From a musical society you expect music and dance, and this show gives us both in abundance. There are fantastic chorus numbers like ‘It’s Delovely’, ‘Anything Goes’, ‘Let’s Step Out’ with its tap dancing routine, or my favourite, ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ with the stunning red stage set and costumes, the great sound, and the fantastic movement by the angels, dancers Gemma Cox, Susan Kydd, Katherine MacCallum, Kerry Mitchell and Elaine Ramsay; and the fantastic chorus of Michael Burns, Gary Cavanagh, Erika Cunningham, Agnes Davis, Janette Gray, Chris Dukes, Joan Mitchell, Elaine Pardoe, Lesley Ritchie, Lynn Smith and Pamela Whalen. Then there’s ‘I get a kick out of you’ by Reno and ‘Take Me Back to Manhatten’ by Reno and the Angels.
The orchestra, under the direction of Paola Fallone who also plays piano, comprises John Angus (clarinet/sax), Colin Sangster (trumpet), Ian Robertson (drums), Gordon Robertson (trombone), and Eunice King (bass guitar).
Caroline Dey (producer), Paola Fallone (musical director) and Lynsey Ellen Faulker (choreographer) are a winning team – their talent and enthusiasm are stamped all over this show.
Stage crew comprises: stage manager, Ali Laing; props, Bethany Bowles assisted by Alison Aitken and Natalie Dalziel; lighting, Ali Oglivy; sound operator, Alistair Fitchett; prompt, Laura McKay; front of house, Liz Pardoe; publicity, Natalie Dalziel; poster and programme, Doug Lawrie with Joan Mitchell, Liz Pardoe and photography, Lynsey Ellen Faulkner; wardrobe, Caroline Dey, Claire Laing, Susan Kydd and Lynn Smith; and Robert and Sheena Seaton, tickets.