Anything Goes, from The Barbican

Entertainment aside, the new London production of the Cole Porter musical reminds us how much he contributed to the jazz repertoire

A still from the 2021 London production of Anything Goes. Photo by Tristram Kenton

With the possible exception of Showboat (1927), which is slightly old-fashioned in comparison, Anything Goes is the oldest musical which is still revived regularly, having first seen the Broadway light of evening in December, 1934. Here it is again, some 87 years on, still showing the young pretenders how it’s done.

First-nighters left the Alvin in New York spoilt for choice between five take-home tunes to beguile their way down West Fifty-Second Street. They were the title song, Blow, Gabriel, Blow, All Through The Night, I Get A Kick Out Of You (which, although indelibly associated with Sinatra, was actually written for and introduced by Ethel Merman, the original star of the show) and a brand-new type of song invented by Cole Porter and hereafter known as the “list” song in the shape of You’re The Top.

Five hit songs should be enough for any show but producers are greedy and this time around they have plundered two further Porter shows and one Porter film in order to supplement the score with four more sure-fire hits and delivering a definite crowd-pleaser.

Luckily, Porter songs are performer-proof because Robert Lindsay and Felicity Kendal are closer to Little and Large than Fred and Ginger and the Book makes Barbara Cartland look like Harlen Coben but this is as nought with pure entertainment-starved audiences happy to bend over backwards to suspend their disbelief.

Whilst the live sell-out show has now closed at the Barbican (it returns in June 2022), allowing the cast to take it on tour, the show was filmed live at the Barbican and has now been released in cinemas nationwide. I saw it on a midweek matinee in a suburban cinema with approximately one hundred people, all of whom had paid £13.00 for the privilege and whose reaction was only marginally less enthusiastic than rock fans at Glastonbury.

If anything, this demonstrates conclusively that there is still an audience for quality.

Cinema booking can be done here: