Cole Porter's much-loved musical Anything Goes is a delirious challenge; familiar belters, huge ensemble set pieces, masses of comedy and a tricky emotional path for the lead actors. Fortunately and fabulously Oxford Student Drama's Shiniest Star Productions smash that challenge; they throw everything at the production, the perfect choice in this luxury transatlantic world where more is more.
The dance and singing is top-notch, individualistic and characterful, ranging from back-to-basics classic comedy numbers to contemporary interludes which let individual skills shine, to full-on epic tap ensembles which fill the Playhouse stage to bursting. Leading lady Kathy Peacock, wisecracking and high-kicking against her backdrop of fabulously talented chorus girls, has silver shoes and all the bravada to fill them. Rebecca Hamilton is sleek and sensuous as Erma, and Belcher and Schneider shine as the posh kids with a wild side, hoofing and hooting it up one moment, wistfully mooning the next. Billy (Toby Chapman, hitting all the high notes) is a charmer. Matthew Carter makes a drunkenly donnish Whitney, sparking off Fiona Asiedu's gleefully grasping Mrs Evangeline. The excellent full band plays throughout on a high platform popping with rivets and life preservers, swapping instruments, tutting at the excesses of the actors and spinning the story on with here a looney-toon flourish. The cast respond with glittering ensemble singing, barbershop interludes; even a choral sequence that briefly makes choristers of drunken cruisers.
The perfect mate date, this is a story about friendship as much as love; take a friend, kick back and luxuriate in the presence of young performers who have watched, understood and loved their material; who are already stars; who make you regret forgetting flowers to throw as the cast take their well-deserved bow.